Fact Check issues on Donald Trump --- leading up to the November 2016 election

May 17, 2016: Regretting going after Cruz’s wife

During his patch-up interview with Kelly, Trump denied calling his retweet of an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz "a mistake."

"I am not walking it back," he told Kelly. "But I actually didn’t say it that way. I said, I could have done without it."

But he did say it that way, telling the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, "Yeah, it was a mistake. If I had to do again, I wouldn’t have sent it."

May 31, 2016: Referring to some Republicans as ‘losers’

Trump’s usage of the word "loser" is downright idiosyncratic, yet he denied using his signature insult against his fellow party members, except one in particular.

"Why do you refer to some Republicans and conservatives as losers?" a reporter asked at a May press conference (around the 34:40 mark).

"No, no, I didn’t say that. I said (Weekly Standard editor) Bill Kristol is a loser," Trump replied, then took it back. "I didn’t say everybody. Many, but I didn’t say everybody."

Kristol is by no means the only conservative "loser," according to the presumptive GOP nominee. Here are a few mentioned in the Washington Post’s list of Trump-anointed losers: RedState’s Erick Erickson, columnist George Will, strategist Roger Stone, Bush advisor Karl Rove, blogger Michelle Malkin, pollster Frank Luntz, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, columnist Charles Krauthammer, and John McCain.

And here are a few more not on the Post’s list: Rubio, Jeb Bush, Cruz, Scott Walker, primary rivals who pledged to support the nominee but haven’t, Megyn Kelly, Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel, consultant Cheri Jacobus, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, commentator S.E. Cupp, and the Club for Growth.

(Trump’s repertoire of insults is also quite expansive. Here are some more names he’s called conservatives.)

June 2, 2016: Nuclear weapons in Japan

Trump accused Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of telling "such lies about his foreign policy."

"They said I want Japan to nuke, that I want Japan to get nuclear weapons," Trump said at a rally in Sacramento." Give me a break."

Trump’s denial is Mostly False. While he didn’t literally say he wants Japan to obtain nuclear power, he’s come very close to it several times:

"At some point we have to say, you know what, we're better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea," he said at a CNN town hall in March.

"Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from North Korea," he said on Fox News Sunday a month later. "Maybe they would be better off — including with nukes, yes, including with nukes

June 12, 2016: Mocking a disabled reporter

Responding to an attack ad, Trump charged Clinton with lying about him mocking a disabled reporter.

Clinton made a false ad about me where I was imitating a reporter GROVELING after he changed his story. I would NEVER mock disabled. Shame!

June 20, 2016: On guns preventing the Orlando shooting

As Democrats mounted efforts to pass gun control legislation in the wake of the Orlando shooting, Trump brought up the proverbial "good guy with a gun" argument, which goes that mass casualties could have been avoided if one civilian in the club were armed.

Under scrutiny for his comment, Trump insisted he meant armed security, not clubgoers.

When I said that if, within the Orlando club, you had some people with guns, I was obviously talking about additional guards or employees

Obviously, he was not. In an interview on CNN, Trump said armed "people" in general, possibly exercising concealed carry, could have prevented the tragedy, and he ignored a reporter when she pointed out that there was an armed security guard in the club. Here’s the exchange:

Trump: "If you had guns on the other side, you wouldn’t have had the tragedy you had. If people in that room …"

Reporter: "But there was …"

Trump: "...had guns with the bullets flying in the opposite direction …"

Reporter: "But Mr. Trump, there was an armed security guard."

Trump: " ...right at him, right at his head, you wouldn't have had the same tragedy that you ended up having. ...But if you had guns in that room, even if you had a number of people having them strapped to their ankle or strapped to their waists, where bullets could have flown in the other direction, you wouldn’t have had the same kind of tragedy."

June 23, 2016: On having one of the world’s best memories

To cap it all, Trump ironically can’t remember bragging about his memory as revealed in his deposition for a Trump University lawsuit. Here’s what he said, according to transcript released in late June:

"Q. You’ve stated though, that you have one of the best memories in the world?

A. I don’t know. Did I use that expression?

Q. Yes.

A. Where? Could I see it?

Q. I can play the video of you reporting it.

A. Did I say I have a great memory or one of the best in the world.

Q. "One of the best in the world" is what the reporter quoted you as saying

A. I don’t remember saying that. As good as my memory is, I don’t remember that, but I have a good memory."

Two weeks before the Dec. 10 deposition, Trump was doubling down his Pants on Fire claim about "thousands and thousands of people were cheering" on 9/11.

"I have the world's greatest memory," he told NBC. "It's one thing everyone agrees on."

Hillary Clinton correct that analysts have called Donald Trump a top global economic risk

"Risk analysts listed Donald Trump, a Donald Trump presidency, as one of the top threats facing the global economy, ahead of terrorism."

Hillary Clinton on Monday, June 27th, 2016 in a speech in Cincinnati

Hillary Clinton, riding a bump in the polls, kept the heat on Donald Trump during a speech in Cincinnati that marked the first time she had campaigned alongside Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of the progressive wing of her party.

"Risk analysts listed Donald Trump, a Donald Trump presidency, as one of the top threats facing the global economy, ahead of terrorism," Clinton said during the speech on June 27, 2016.

We don’t take a position on whether Trump actually is one of the top threats facing the global economy. But we thought we’d check to see whether Clinton has solid evidence that professional risk analysts have made that argument.

So is Clinton right about how analysts have rated Trump? Basically, yes.

When we asked the Clinton campaign what she was referring to, they pointed us to the periodic rankings of global risk published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The Economist Intelligence Unit -- an affiliate of The Economist, the London-based newsweekly -- is a research and analysis firm that supplies clients, including businesses, with information about opportunities and risks around the world.

The firm made headlines in March 2016 when it listed the possibility of a Trump presidency as one of the biggest threats to "companies’ capacity to operate at target profitability." The rankings are based on "qualitative" judgments of a how powerfully an event could affect the world and how likely it is to happen, the firm says.

In its March ratings, the firm rated the risks from a Trump presidency as 12 on a 25-point scale. That ranked Trump sixth among the 10-item list of biggest threats, tied with "the rising threat of jihadi terrorism destabilising the global economy."

But the Trump threat level increased in the July 2016 rankings. A Trump presidency now ranks as the third-biggest global threat, with an increased score of 16 on the 25-point scale. In the meantime, the risk from jihadi terrorism has remained constant with a score of 12.

In the July ratings, the only higher scores were 20 for "China experiences a hard landing" and, in a tie with Trump, a 16 for "currency volatility and persistent commodity prices weakness."

Specifically, the firm wrote that "although we do not expect Mr. Trump to defeat his most likely Democratic contender, Hillary Clinton, there are risks to this forecast, especially in the event of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil or a sudden economic downturn." The writeup cited his "hostility" to free trade, his hard line on Muslims, his "militaristic tendencies," his skepticism toward NATO, and his "indifference" to nuclear proliferation in Asia.

The firm had never rated a pending candidacy to be a geopolitical risk to the United States and the world, an official told Politico.

Donald Trump fully flip-flops, lately opposes ban on assault weapons

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Our ruling

Trump supported the assault-weapon ban in 2000. He opposes restrictions now.

We rate this a FULL FLOP.


FULL FLOP-- A major reversal of position; a complete flip-flop.

==============================

Before finishing second to Texan Ted Cruz in Wisconsin’s April 2016 Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump of New York retweeted a supporter’s message stating: "Challenge to all WI gun owners. Vote @realDonaldTrump.The only candidate that will protect your rights!"

That was an opinion; we can't check it. But the declaration didn’t impress Josh Perry, an aide to Sen. Cruz, who responded the day after the primary with tweets characterizing Trump as a flip-flopper on restricting assault weapons.

Cue the Flip-O-Meter. Has Trump flip-flopped on banning assault weapons?

"Remember when you advocated for stripping away my #2A rights?" Perry tweeted about Trump April 6, 2016, referring to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which says: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Cruz’s aide earlier posted a tweet saying Trump had said: "I support the ban on assault weapons" and "a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun."

Asked to elaborate, Perry told us in a Twitter message that he’d drawn Trump’s comments from the businessman’s 2000 book, "The America We Deserve," in which Trump wrote: "I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun."

The book came out as Trump mulled a possible run for president as a third-party hopeful. At the time, a 1994 congressionally-approved ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons was due to lapse in 2004. Democratic attempts to resurrect the restrictions have not gained traction.

Perry also pointed out a January 2016 news post on TheIntercept.com, which says it’s "dedicated to producing fearless, adversarial journalism." The post contrasted Trump’s support in 2000 for the assault-weapon ban and longer waiting periods with recent Trump proposals presented on his campaign website, including calls for law-abiding Americans to own the "firearm of their choice" and for state-issued concealed-carry permits allowing residents to carry handguns to be valid in every state. On his site, Trump also says members of the military should be able to freely carry weapons on bases and in recruiting stations.

Trump also brings up assault-weapon restrictions, but not in a supportive way, saying: "Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like ‘assault weapons,’ ‘military-style weapons’ and ‘high-capacity magazines’ to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans."

That policy position showed up on the site in September 2015, according to an ABC News story at the time, which said: "The position on assault weapons represents a departure for Trump from a stance he held about 15 years ago."

Trump’s site includes a section on the criminal background checks that residents who purchase guns at stores must complete. In the section, Trump advocates mental health records getting tied into the system. He’s silent on favoring or opposing slightly longer waiting periods before purchases are allowed though he indicates he doesn’t like the background-check system, saying: "When the system was created, gun owners were promised that it would be instant, accurate and fair. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case today."

In 2016, TheIntercept.com reported, Trump "has vowed to undo President" Barack "Obama’s modest gun executive orders," per Trump’s remarks at a January 2016 New Hampshire stop, and also called for the elimination of school "gun-free zones." In Vermont in January, Trump said: "I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and — you have to — and on military bases. My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There's no more gun-free zones." At the time, a Washington Post news story noted Trump had repeatedly said gun-free zones are a magnet for mentally ill shooters and that mass shootings in Paris and California could have been prevented if more citizens were armed to protect themselves and others.

We used the text-search feature offered by Google Books to confirm Trump’s gun statements in his 2000 book. In the book’s brief section on guns, Trump said: "Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions."

Next, Trump wrote, "I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record."

In a March 2016 debate, Trump was asked to speak to his published support for an assault-weapon ban. He replied: "I don’t support it anymore. I do not support the ban on assault" weapons, he said.

We asked Trump’s campaign if he’d flip-flopped and didn’t immediately hear back.

Our ruling

Trump supported the assault-weapon ban in 2000. He opposes restrictions now.

We rate this a FULL FLOP.


FULL FLOP-- A major reversal of position; a complete flip-flop.

Donald Trump and Kids Named In $250M Tax Scam

 
The lawsuit, unsealed Thursday, describes the scheme as simple, telling the judge “there need be no fear of complexity, for there is none.”

Four Donald Trump-licensed real estate developments are at the center of a huge income tax evasion scheme, according to allegations in a lawsuit unsealed Thursday afternoon by a judge in Manhattan.

The presumptive Republican nominee is not personally accused. He is described as a “material witness” in the evasion of taxes on as much as $250 million in income. According to the court papers, that includes $100 million in profits and $65 million in real estate transfer taxes from a Manhattan high rise project bearing his familiar name.

However, his status may change, according to the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, Richard Lerner and Frederick M. Oberlander, citing Trump’s testimony about Felix Sater, a convicted stock swindler at the center of the alleged scheme.

Trump received tens of millions of dollars in fees and partnership interests in one of the four projects, the Trump Soho New York, a luxury high rise in lower Manhattan. His son Donald Junior and his daughter Ivanka also were paid in fees and partnership interests, the lawyers said, and are also material witnesses in the case.

Trump and Sater traveled extensively together and were photographed and interviewed in Denver and Loveland, Colo., Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale and New York. The two Trump children were also with Sater in Moscow, Alan Garten, the Trump Organization general counsel, has said.

Trump has testified about Sater in a Florida lawsuit accusing the two of them of fraud in a failed high-rise project. Trump testified that he had a glancing knowledge of Sater and would not recognize him if he were sitting in the room.

Sater controlled an investment firm named Bayrock, with offices in Trump Tower, and sought to develop branded Trump Tower luxury buildings in Moscow and other cities. Court papers show his salary in 2006 was $7 million, but it alleges that was a pittance compared to his real income.

Sater then moved into the Trump Organization offices. He carried a business card, issued by the Trump Organization, identifying him as a “senior adviser” to Trump.

The tax fraud lawsuit included 212 pages of documents, among them a flow chart that the plantiff claims showed how the scheme worked. The lawsuit alleges the tax fraud scheme as simple, telling the judge “there need be no fear of complexity, for there is none.”

real estate, tax fraud Trump

Handout

The four developments were all handled as partnerships. Partnerships are not taxed and are rarely audited because the profits are supposed to be reported as going to the partners personally. The lawsuit says the profits simply were not reported when Sater and others took their partnership profits and other income from the deals.

The state tax fraud lawsuit is known as a qui tam case in which citizens file as private attorneys general on behalf of the government. In effect Lerner and Oberlander are acting as prosecutors in the alleged tax fraud.

Eric Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, learned of the case soon after it was filed in state court last August and declined to intervene. His office confirmed that stance Thursday after the lawsuit was unsealed.

The suit says Sater and other defendants owe at least $7 million in New York state income taxes, a sum that would be tripled if they prevail.

If the federal government were to intervene the federal taxes would come to about $35 million.

New York state tax law closely aligns with federal tax law in defining income, deductions and taxes due.

The case was unsealed after Sater filed an action in Israel against a rabbi who says he was cheated in a $40 million stock swindle.  That  was enough to persuade a federal judge to unseal another lawsuit against Sater, Bayrock and others earlier in July. And in turn that disclosure prompted the state Supreme Court (trial court) judge in Manhattan to unseal the tax evasion lawsuit.

Sater secretly pled guilty to the stock swindle in 1998. The $40 million flexed from investors went to him, the Genovese and Gambino crime families and others.

In 1998 Sater pleaded guilty in federal court, but the plea was kept secret. Sater was sentenced in secret in 2009 to probation and a $25,000 fine with no jail time and no requirement to make restitution.

That was an extraordinarily light sentence, especially given Sater’s violent past. In 1991 he admitted to shoving the broken stem of a margarita glass into a man’s face and was sentenced to two years.

Court papers, testimony by Trump and a book by one of Sater’s confederatesThe Scorpion and the Frog, “The True Story of One Man's Fraudulent Rise and Fall on the Wall Street of the Nineties”—all tell how after his arrest Sater became an operative for the Central Intelligence Agency, supposedly buying missiles on their way to terrorists, which may explain the light sentence.

As to Trump, every president starting with Richard Nixon and major party candidate since has made public some or all of their tax returns. He has not, even as Hillary Clinton has released her complete tax returns going back more than three decades.

Trump has explained his refusal to make his income tax returns public by claiming that the ones he has filed for 2012 and since are under routine audit. Mark Everson, a former commissioner of Internal Revenue has said there is no reason to hold the returns back, even assuming they are being audited.

He has offered no explanation for not releasing his returns for 2011 and earlier, years on which he has said the audits are closed.

Documents made public by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission show that despite living a lavish lifestyle, Trump did not pay income taxes in 1978, 1979, 1992 and 1994. He also paid no income taxes in 1984, by far his most lucrative year in his career to that point, according to state and city tax tribunal proceedings I reported on previously.

Donald Trump’s Deals Rely on Being Creative With the Truth

Donald J. Trump at a campaign event this month in Virginia. A survey of his four decades of wheeling and dealing reveals an operatic record of dissembling and deception. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

There was the time Donald J. Trump told Larry King that he had been paid more than $1 million to give a speech about his business acumen when in fact he was paid $400,000. Or the time he sought a bank loan claiming a net worth of $3.5 billion in 2004, four times as much as what the bank found when it checked his math. Or the time he boasted that membership to Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., cost $300,000 when the actual initiation fee was $200,000. Or the time he bragged on CNBC about his new Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas, claiming, “We have 1,282 units, and they sold out in less than a week.” As Mr. Trump knew, more than 300 units had not been sold.

Confronted in a court case about this last untruth, Mr. Trump was anything but chagrined. “I’m talking to a television station,” he said. “We do want to put the best spin on the property.”

As Mr. Trump prepares to claim the Republican nomination for president this week, he and his supporters are sure to laud his main calling card — his long, operatic record as a swaggering business tycoon. And without question, there will be successes aplenty to highlight, from his gleaming golden high-rises to his well-regarded golf resorts, hit TV shows and best-selling books.
 

But a survey of Mr. Trump’s four decades of wheeling and dealing also reveals an equally operatic record of dissembling and deception, some of it unabashedly confirmed by Mr. Trump himself, who nearly 30 years ago first extolled the business advantages of “truthful hyperbole.” Indeed, based on the mountain of court records churned out over the span of Mr. Trump’s career, it is hard to find a project he touched that did not produce allegations of broken promises, blatant lies or outright fraud.

Under the intense scrutiny of a presidential election, many of those allegations have already become familiar campaign fodder: the Trump University students and Trump condo buyers who say they were fleeced; the public servants from New Jersey to Scotland who now say they rue the zoning approvals, licenses or tax breaks they gave based on Mr. Trump’s promises; the small-time contractors who say Mr. Trump concocted complaints about their work to avoid paying them; the infuriated business partners who say Mr. Trump concealed profits or ignored contractual obligations; the business journalists and stock analysts who say Mr. Trump smeared them for critical coverage.

Taken as a whole, though, an examination of Mr. Trump’s business career reveals persistent patterns in the way Mr. Trump bends or breaks the truth — patterns that may already feel familiar to those watching his campaign.

First and foremost is Mr. Trump’s tendency toward the self-aggrandizing fib — as if it were not impressive enough to be paid $400,000 for a speech. What also emerges is a nearly reflexive habit of telling his target audience precisely what he thinks it wants to hear — such as promising Trump University students they will learn all his real estate secrets from his “handpicked” instructors. And finally, there is the pattern already deeply familiar to his political opponents — making spurious claims against adversaries under Mr. Trump’s oft-stated theory that the best defense is a scorched-earth offense.

Equally striking is his Houdiniesque ability to wiggle away from all but the most skilled and determined efforts to corner him in an apparent lie. In interviews, lawyers who have tangled with Mr. Trump in court cases are sometimes reduced to sputtering, astonished rage, calling him “borderline pathological” and “the Michelangelo of deception” as they attempt to describe the ease with which Mr. Trump weaves his own versions of reality.

“He’s a bully, and bullies aren’t known for their veracity,” said Richard C. Seltzer, a retired senior partner at the law firm Kaye Scholer who confronted Mr. Trump in three real estate lawsuits.

In a telephone interview on Friday, Mr. Trump defended his integrity as a businessman — “I shoot very straight” — and argued that those who accuse him of acting in bad faith are often the same people he has outmaneuvered in deals.

“What, you’re going to quote people that I’ve beat? Are you going to quote people that I out-dealt?” he asked, adding, “I’ll give you hundreds of names of people that have dealt with me that say I’m very honest.”

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is already hard at work making the case that Mr. Trump’s truth-challenged business record is a harbinger of how he would mislead from the Oval Office. Her campaign has even put up a none-too-subtle website: www.artofthesteal.biz.

Mr. Trump’s business record may help explain why various fact-checkers have barely been able to keep pace with his false claims on the campaign trail. PolitiFact has labeled 34 of Mr. Trump’s assertions “Pants on Fire” lies. As of July 1, The Washington Post had fact-checked 46 statements by Mr. Trump. It gave 70 percent of them its worst rating, four Pinocchios — a record so abysmal that the newspaper recently compiled a video of what it called “Donald Trump’s most outrageous four-Pinocchio claims.”

The taxonomy of Mr. Trump’s business deceptions has been the subject of legal and journalistic scrutiny for decades. A Fortune magazine article from 2000 memorably described Mr. Trump’s “astonishing ability to prevaricate” this way: “But when Trump says he owns 10 percent of the Plaza Hotel, understand that what he actually means is that he has the right to 10 percent of the profit if it’s ever sold. When he says he’s building a ‘90-story building’ next to the U.N., he means a 72-story building that has extra-high ceilings. And when he says his casino company is the ‘largest employer in the state of New Jersey,’ he actually means to say it is the eighth largest.”

The casino magnate Steve Wynn, a sometimes friend and sometimes foe of Mr. Trump’s, took up the subject of Mr. Trump’s honesty in an interview with New York magazine. “His statements to people like you, whether they concern us and our projects or our motivations or his own reality or his own future or his own present you have seen over the years have no relation to truth or fact,” Mr. Wynn said.

== To be Continued ==

== Continued ==

Mr. Trump in 2005 at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas. He exaggerated about the number of units that sold in a week. Credit Ethan Miller/Getty Images

‘Truthful Hyperbole’

Some of the earliest documented examples of Mr. Trump’s deceptive business tactics come from none other than Mr. Trump, who in books and in interviews sometimes seems to delight in describing the brazen bluffs and well-timed trickery he used to claw his way to the upper echelons of New York City’s cutthroat real estate world.

“You have to understand where I was coming from,” Mr. Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller, “The Art of the Deal.” “While there are certainly honorable people in the real estate business, I was more accustomed to the sort of people with whom you don’t want to waste the effort of a handshake because you know it’s meaningless.”

Mr. Trump was particularly proud of a stratagem he employed in 1982, when he was trying to entice Holiday Inn to invest in a casino he was building in Atlantic City, N.J. The board of directors decided to visit Atlantic City, which worried Mr. Trump because he had precious little actual construction to show off. So Mr. Trump ordered his construction supervisor to cram every bulldozer and dump truck he could find into the nearly vacant construction site.

“What the bulldozers and dump trucks did wasn’t important, I said, so long as they did a lot of it. If they got some actual work accomplished, all the better, but if necessary, he should have the bulldozers dig up dirt from one side of the site and dump it on the other.”

A week later, when Mr. Trump escorted the Holiday Inn executives to the site, one board member wanted to know why a worker was filling a hole he had just dug. “This was difficult for me to answer, but fortunately, this board member was more curious than he was skeptical,” Mr. Trump wrote, boasting that weeks later Holiday Inn agreed to invest in his casino.

“That’s called ‘business,’” Mr. Trump said on Friday of the episode.

In court cases against Mr. Trump — USA Today counted 3,500 lawsuits involving Mr. Trump, and Mr. Trump estimates he has testified more than 100 times — plaintiffs’ lawyers frequently return to the same two paragraphs from “The Art of the Deal.”

“I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

In depositions, lawyers have repeatedly probed for the limits of Mr. Trump’s “truthful hyperbole,” or, as one lawyer framed it, the distinction Mr. Trump makes between “innocent exaggeration” and “guilty exaggeration.”

The now-defunct Trump University has left a long trail of customers saying that they were defrauded. Credit Thos Robinson/Getty Images

For example, in the now-infamous Trump University litigation, Mr. Trump was asked in a deposition about a script that had been prepared for Trump University instructors. According to the script, the instructors were supposed to tell their students the following: “I remember one time Mr. Trump said to us over dinner, he said, ‘Real estate is the only market that, when there’s a sale going on, people run from the store.’ You don’t want to run from the store.”

No such dinners ever took place, Mr. Trump acknowledged. In fact, Mr. Trump struggled to identify a single one of the instructors he claimed to have handpicked, even after he was shown their photographs. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was not bothered by the script’s false insinuation of real estate secrets shared over chummy dinners. Asked if this example constituted “innocent exaggeration,” Mr. Trump replied, “Yes, I’d say that’s an innocent exaggeration.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump argued that the script might fall under the legal concept of “puffery” — which many legal dictionaries define as an exaggeration or statement that “no reasonable person” would take as factual. And in any event, he continued, the true sinners in the Trump University case are the students who sued him even after giving rave reviews in their written evaluations of the seminars. “I think that’s dishonest,” he said.

Mr. Trump has been repeatedly accused of bringing false legal claims to avoid paying debts and evade contractual obligations. As far back as 1983, a New York City housing court judge ruled that Mr. Trump filed a “spurious” lawsuit to harass a tenant into vacating a Trump building.

Then there was the case Mr. Trump brought against Barbara Corcoran, the real estate broker best known for her appearances on “Shark Tank.” In the mid-1990s, Mr. Trump owed millions of dollars to Ms. Corcoran for helping him secure financing for a development. But when New York magazine published a cover story about the troubled project — “Trump’s Near-Death Experience” — Mr. Trump sued Ms. Corcoran, accusing her and her associates of sharing damaging information with the magazine and thus violating a confidentiality agreement. He refused to pay her the millions he owed, claiming her breach had gravely damaged his business.

At trial, Mr. Trump was unable to produce a single document showing harm to his business. But his certitude never wavered, even after Ms. Corcoran’s lawyer, Mr. Seltzer, confronted him with article after article in which Mr. Trump himself had discussed with reporters much of the same “confidential” information he accused Ms. Corcoran’s team of divulging.

“There is something very belligerent about the way he presents facts, as if he thinks nobody will have the balls to stand up to him,” Mr. Seltzer said in an interview. (In dismissing Mr. Trump’s suit against Ms. Corcoran, the judge said the only damages he could identify were to Mr. Trump’s “bruised ego.”)

== To be Continued ==

== Continued ==

The Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County. Mr. Trump embellished the cost of a membership. Credit Mike Segar/Reuters

Well-Timed Memory Lapses

In Friday’s interview, Mr. Trump denied filing frivolous court cases, insisting, “I’ve won a massive majority of the litigation I’ve been involved in.” He pointed to the USA Today survey of his 3,500 legal cases. Although the newspaper could not determine who had prevailed in the vast majority of the cases, it did find Mr. Trump the clear winner in 450 suits and the clear loser in 38.

And, indeed, for all of the litigation Mr. Trump has attracted or spawned, for all of the times he has been accused of ruinous dishonesty, the legal and regulatory record is surprisingly bare of official findings by judges, juries or regulators that Mr. Trump engaged in perjury or improper deception or actual fraud.

A rare exception came after Mr. Trump decided to demolish a department store to make way for his Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. Mr. Trump’s demolition contractor hired about 200 unauthorized Polish laborers, paying them as little as $4 an hour to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The case ended up in federal court after some workers were shortchanged even these wages.

Mr. Trump protested that he knew nothing about the use of unauthorized workers — even though workers testified that they saw him visiting the site and some witnesses said that Mr. Trump and the executive he assigned to oversee the demolition were well aware of what was going on. In 1991, a federal judge, Charles E. Stewart Jr., ruled that despite Mr. Trump’s denials, there was “strong evidence” that he and his subordinates and his contractor had conspired to hire the Polish workers and deprive them of employment benefits. He awarded them $325,415 in damages.

But in case after case, Mr. Trump has displayed a special talent for turning what should be cold hard facts into semantic mush. Perhaps the most famous example of this skill came when Mr. Trump was asked under oath a seemingly straightforward question: Had he ever lied about his net worth? Mr. Trump responded, “My net worth fluctuates and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.”

So, he explained in a deposition, when he said membership costs $300,000 to his Westchester golf club, that included the $200,000 initiation fee plus every cent he guessed that a member might spend on annual dues over the next 20 or 30 years. In other words, “The way I say it is more accurate.” And when he told Larry King he was paid more than $1 million for a speech, it was not his fault if viewers failed to realize he was including not just his $400,000 speaking fee but also the hundreds of thousands of dollars he assumed must have been spent promoting his appearance.

Part of what makes Mr. Trump such an elusive target is that his paper trail is often minimal. Mr. Trump has repeatedly testified that he does not use computers. He says he also throws away his day planner each month, and just last year he testified that he did not own a smartphone. “Unlike Hillary Clinton, I’m not a big email fan,” he said, leaving open the question of how he posts to Twitter.

Mr. Trump is also adept at deflecting blame to his staff. In two of his books, Mr. Trump made the startling and, as it turned out, bogus claim that he had once performed the remarkable feat of climbing out from under more than $9 billion in debt. Mr. Trump blamed his ghostwriter for the mistake. Asked if he reads his books before publication, Mr. Trump said, “I read it as quickly as I can because of time constraints.”

Mr. Trump is also the beneficiary of miraculously well-timed memory lapses. In suit after suit, the man who claims to possess one of world’s best memories suddenly seems to have chronic memory loss when asked about critical facts or events.

Such was the case when Mr. Trump filed a libel lawsuit against Timothy L. O’Brien, the author of “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.” Among other things, Mr. Trump asserted that “TrumpNation” cost him a “deal made in heaven” with a group of Italian investors, men he had met and who were on the brink of signing a business partnership that would have made him hundreds of millions of dollars. Their names? He could not recall. “TrumpNation” also cost him a hotel deal with Russian investors, he said. He could not remember their names, either. He was certain the book also ruined a deal with Turkish investors. Again, he could not recall any names. Polish investors also got cold feet after they read Mr. O’Brien’s book. Their names escaped him, too. The book also scared off investors from Ukraine. Alas, he could not think of their names either.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit was dismissed.

Rudy Giuliani wrongly says Hillary Clinton is for open borders

By Amy Sherman , http://www.politifact.com/flor...ary-clinton-open-bo/

==============================

Our ruling

Giuliani said, "Hillary Clinton is for open borders."

We rate this claim False.

==============================

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Donald Trump’s plan to secure the border and said that Hillary Clinton would take the opposite approach.

"You know Donald Trump will secure our borders," Giuliani said at the Republican convention July 18. "His opponent has had her chance to do this, and she has failed. Hillary Clinton is for open borders."

Claiming that Clinton would create "open borders" suggests she would allow undocumented immigrants to travel freely or with very few restrictions between two countries.

That’s not what Clinton has proposed. Clinton supported legislation in 2013 that included a path to citizenship (with conditions) and heightened border security.

However, some experts argue that "open borders" doesn't necessarily mean no enforcement at all, but rather making it far easier for undocumented immigrants to stay here. Clinton does want to make it easier for many undocumented immigrants, but that’s not the same as getting rid of enforcement or allowing people to enter and leave the United States without border control.

We were unable to locate a Giuliani spokesperson Monday night.

Clinton’s proposal

Clinton and Trump have taken vastly different approaches on immigration, although they have both said they favor secure borders.

During this campaign, Clinton has called for addressing immigration laws including a path to citizenship within her first 100 days. But she has also called for protecting borders and deporting criminals or those who pose threats.

"We need to secure our borders. I’m for it, I voted for it, I believe in it, and we also need to deal with the families, the workers who are here, who have made contributions, and their children," she said in November. "We can do more to secure our border, and we should do more to deal with the 11 or 12 million people who are here, get them out of the shadows."

This is pretty consistent with her view as a New York senator and secretary of state.

In her 2014 book Hard Choices, Clinton praised the 2013 immigration bill co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators including Marco Rubio of Florida. That bill included billions for border enforcement over a decade for new surveillance equipment and fencing along the Mexican border, as well as adding 20,000 border agents. That bill passed the Senate but never reached a vote in the House.

Clinton’s immigration platform does not amount to open borders, Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, previously told PolitiFact Florida when we fact-checked a similar claim by Trump that we rated False.

Open borders existed before 1875, when there were no federal restrictions on emigrating to the country, he said. The United States had immigration restrictions from 1875 to 1924 without a border patrol, which was created in 1924.

It’s wrong to conflate "open borders" with anything less than perfect enforcement of immigration laws, he said. It’s also wrong to "claim Clinton is for open borders while she has also supported massive increases in border security to better enforce our restrictive immigration laws."

But Clinton has said she wants to limit deportations to violent criminals, not deport children and end raids and round-ups and go further than President Barack Obama for DREAMers and their parents if legally possible — although that is in legal limbo after the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked. That greatly expands who could avoid deportation in a Clinton White House.

Those policies amount to less enforcement to supporters of reduced immigration, including Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, and Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA.

Beck has told PolitiFact that the term "open borders" is imprecise. However, if undocumented immigrants can "stay as long as you don’t commit a violent crime, that is pretty close to open borders. You don’t have to give amnesty -- you can just not have a threat of deportation, and it allows people to stay."

Our ruling

Giuliani said, "Hillary Clinton is for open borders."

Clinton supported a 2013 bill that would have invested billions in border security in addition to a path to citizenship. As a presidential candidate she has called for securing the border and targeting deportation to criminals and those who pose security threats. While her plan would make it easier for many undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, that’s not the same as allowing a free-for-all at the border and ending enforcement.

We rate this claim False.

Trump says, without proof, that he recommended Ohio for GOP convention

=================================

Our ruling

The selection of Cleveland was conducted by the party in 2014, when it wasn’t known who would ultimately win the nomination.

We rate Trump’s statement False.

=================================

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump enters the stage to introduce his wife Melania on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Getty)

On the opening night of the Republican convention, Donald Trump told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly he was grateful it was held in Cleveland.

"I wanted it to be here, and we had lots of choices," Trump said. "I wanted it to be in Ohio. I recommended Ohio. And people fought very hard that it be in Ohio. It's a tremendous economic development event, and you look at the way it's going so far, it's very impressive. I wanted it be here, the Republicans wanted it to be here."

We wondered, did Trump get involved in picking Cleveland?

If he did, we couldn’t find a trace of it.

We asked the Trump campaign for details, and we’re still waiting to hear back.

Trump’s statement seems odd because of the timing.

The Republican National Committee named a site selection committee in January 2014. Cities submitted proposals to show that they had a big enough venue, enough hotel rooms, the organizational heft to pull all the pieces together, and activities for the delegates.

By April, the committee had winnowed its choices down to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, and Las Vegas.

On July 8, 2014, the Republican National Committee announced it had picked Cleveland.

At the time, Trump not only wasn’t a candidate, he didn’t seem to be a likely candidate. An Associated Press rundown of the potential contenders didn’t include Trump, but it did have Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker.

With the exception of Paul Ryan, everyone on the list ultimately threw his hat into the ring.

We looked to see if Trump had any reaction after Cleveland was picked, but there was no sign of him in the convention coverage. Instead, all we found were articles about the closure of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Trump said more closures might be on the way.

We spoke to Steve Duprey, a member of the site selection committee, and he told us he doesn’t recall Trump’s name coming up in any meeting.

"It’s possible he said something to somebody, but I never heard of it," Duprey said.

We did not hear back from the committee chair.

A search of the Nexis database of newspapers, transcripts and wire reports going back long before Cleveland was announced produced no statement from Trump. His name and the Republican convention didn’t appear together in the first half of 2014.

Our ruling

Trump said he liked having the convention in Cleveland and that he had recommended Ohio. It’s possible that he put in a good word for either Cleveland or Cincinnati (both are in Ohio), but there’s no record of him saying anything about either one. He was not a candidate when Cleveland was picked in 2014, and he made no public statement at the time.

The Trump campaign hasn’t published any evidence of an early recommendation, nor could we find any in a Nexis search. Plus, a member of the site selection committee has no recollection of Trump having voiced a preference.

The selection of Cleveland was conducted by the party in 2014, when it wasn’t known who would ultimately win the nomination.

We rate Trump’s statement False.

=====================

About this statement:

Published: Monday, July 18th, 2016 at 11:57 p.m.

Researched by: Jon Greenberg

Edited by: Bill Adair

Subjects: Elections

Pence falsely says Clinton didn't 'send help' during Benghazi attack

================================

Our ruling

Pence claimed that Clinton "took 13 hours to send help to Americans under fire."

In fact, it wasn’t Clinton’s responsibility to send troops to the scene — the military chain of command took that responsibility. The Defense Department attempted to send help to the scene, but was unable to reach Benghazi before the deaths occurred.

Pence implied that Clinton dawdled before sending help to Americans in danger. That is not accurate.

We rate this claim False.

================================

Vice presidential nominees are often expected to act as attack dogs on a campaign ticket. Maybe Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was warming up for the role at a rally for Donald Trump in Indiana on July 12.

Pence rattled off a series of reasons Hillary Clinton was not fit for the presidency. One of them caught our attention, a claim about Benghazi, the Libyan city where a 2012 terrorist attack left four Americans dead.

"We don't need a president that took 13 hours to send help to Americans under fire and after four brave Americans fell said ‘what difference, at this point, does it make.’ Anyone who did that, anyone who said that, should be disqualified from ever being commander in chief of the armed forces," Pence said.

President Barack Obama’s administration has been subject to a great deal of scrutiny during, before and after that attack, and much of that has been directed at Clinton.

Several investigations have found, however, that no action by Clinton -- or anybody in the administration -- could have moved additional forces to Benghazi before the last American deaths.

And if it were possible, Clinton was not responsible for sending help. That fell to military officials.

The Benghazi timeline

The attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi began at 9:40 p.m., Benghazi time. It took until after 10 a.m. the next morning for the last plane evacuating Americans to leave Benghazi — the time from the initial attack to the final evacuation is Pence’s "13 hours." (For a more detailed timeline, see this document issued by the House’s select committee on Benghazi or our fact-check of a claim about delays in the military’s response.)

At an 11 p.m. meeting (5 p.m. Washington time), President Barack Obama directed military officials to "do everything possible" to save lives in Benghazi. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that he then ordered forces around the Mediterranean to move toward Libya. Clinton’s department was ultimately responsible for the security setup at the Benghazi mission, but at this point it was the military, under the Defense Department and, ultimately, the president, that was moving forces toward Libya.

None of the forces ordered to prepare to deploy to Benghazi ever reached the city in the aftermath of the attack. Eventually, it was decided that the Americans in Benghazi would evacuate to Tripoli, Libya's capital, and forces that would have gone to Benghazi were directed there, Libya’s capital, where they were being evacuated to. The CIA station chief in Tripoli — as opposed to anyone in Washington — dispatched a team to work with local militia groups to extract the Americans in Benghazi.

Clinton was active throughout the 13-hour period. She testified that she called Libya’s president to see if friendly forces could be dispatched to help the Americans in Benghazi. She also spoke with the embassy in Tripoli and then-CIA director David Petraeus.

There have been eight congressional investigations of Benghazi so far, most of which were run by Republicans. Several of their reports criticized Clinton and her State Department for the security setup in Benghazi, for their part in the administration messaging after the attack, and for not holding themselves accountable afterward.

But they generally criticized the Defense Department or other parts of the administration, not Clinton or the State Department, for delays in deploying military assets the night of the attack. When Congressman Mike Pompeo asked Clinton, "Why was heaven and earth not moved at the initial sound of guns," in terms of sending help, Clinton told him to ask the Defense Department.

The House select committee on Benghazi concluded: "The decisions made earlier in the year by senior State Department officials to maintain a presence in Benghazi without adequate security forces and an inadequately fortified Mission compound contributed to what amounted to a worst case scenario of circumstances that would test the military’s preparedness and ability to respond.

"Nevertheless, the Defense Department did not pass the test."

The committee went on to question why it took so long for orders from Obama and Panetta to translate into action on the ground.

The committee’s final report leaves open the possibility that the State Department might have further impeded the speed of reaction to Benghazi.

"Whether this failure is shouldered by (the Defense Department) alone, or rests in part on decisions made by the State Department in Washington D.C. or with the White House... is one of the lingering questions about Benghazi," the report reads. This brings up the possibility that the State Department delayed help, but that wasn’t Pence’s claim.

And, based on the generally accepted timeline of the attack, its appears likely the delay ended up being immaterial.  Different Republican-led congressional investigations have concluded that additional forces could not have reached Benghazi in time to matter. Even if Clinton was responsible for the response to the attack, it's not clear what she could have done to overcome what military officials called "the tyranny of time and distance."

Our ruling

Pence claimed that Clinton "took 13 hours to send help to Americans under fire."

In fact, it wasn’t Clinton’s responsibility to send troops to the scene — the military chain of command took that responsibility. The Defense Department attempted to send help to the scene, but was unable to reach Benghazi before the deaths occurred.

Pence implied that Clinton dawdled before sending help to Americans in danger. That is not accurate.

We rate this claim False.

Donald Trump Jr. wrong that Hillary Clinton is proposing to destroy Medicare

============================

Our ruling

Donald Trump Jr. said Clinton is proposing "destroying Medicare for seniors."

Clinton is certainly not proposing that in a literal sense, and experts we contacted agreed that her actual policy proposals -- especially making Medicare an option for those between 55 and 65 -- were ambitious but were hardly a dagger at the heart of the program.

We rate the claim False.

============================

Speaking at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump Jr. touted his father, the newly anointed GOP presidential nominee, as someone who would be able to do a better job on health care than his rival, Hillary Clinton.

He said his father would be "a president who will repeal and replace Obamacare without leaving our most vulnerable citizens without health care, and who will do it without destroying Medicare for seniors, as Hillary Clinton has proposed."

Given how popular the single-payer health care program for seniors is, it was pretty obvious to us that Clinton wouldn’t have put the proposal "destroy Medicare" on the issues page of her website. (We were right on that one.)

Still, we wondered whether there is any plausible interpretation of her actual Medicare policy proposals in which they could end up "destroying Medicare for seniors." We didn’t hear back from the Trump campaign about what Donald Trump Jr. meant, but we took a look for ourselves.

First, let’s review Clinton’s agenda for Medicare.

On her issues page, the word "Medicare" comes up twice. First, Clinton said she would "explore cost-effective ways to make more health care providers eligible for telehealth reimbursement under Medicare and other programs."

That’s a fairly limited program, as well as relatively non-controversial and unlikely -- even in a worst-case scenario -- to endanger the program’s future, said Sherry Glied, a health policy specialist at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

The second reference to Medicare on Clinton’s issue page is more sweeping -- to "support letting people over 55 years old buy into Medicare."

Currently, you need to be 65 to get coverage under Medicare. Under Clinton’s proposal, people up to 10 years younger than that could sign up for the program if they wanted to.

Health care experts told PolitiFact that this proposal comes with challenges, but that even if worst came to worst, the idea seems unlikely to jeopardize the program’s continued existence for its core membership of those 65 and older.

"There have been lots of proposals of this type in past and not much concern about the effects on traditional Medicare, assuming premiums are set correctly," Glied said. She said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last analyzed a proposal of this sort in December 2008 and "raised no concerns about effects on the program as a whole."

A. Bowen Garrett, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s health policy center, agreed that the eventual fine print in Clinton’s proposal is going to matter, because in any program that’s optional, there’s a risk that it could attract a relatively small and less healthy pool of beneficiaries who could force premiums upward.

Still, Garrett said, "I do not see why that would necessarily harm the program" in the way Donald Trump Jr. meant it.

Indeed, in the fight to craft the Democratic platform, Clinton’s allies managed to defeat a more sweeping proposal backed by Bernie Sanders to cover all Americans through a Medicare-style single-payer system.

After the proposal was defeated, several experts -- including some who are sympathetic to the idea of expanding health insurance coverage --  told Kaiser Health News that the Sanders approach that Clinton defeated was disruptive enough to have actually put the program at risk.

"It’s hard to be nimble" when a system gets that big, Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised Obama on crafting his signature health care law, told the publication. "No organization in the world does anything for 300 million people and does it efficiently."

Princeton University health policy expert Paul Starr, a onetime adviser to President Bill Clinton, concurred that "to try to do it in one fell swoop would be massively disruptive," according to Kaiser Health News.

Other health care specialists told PolitiFact that Donald Trump Jr.’s statement is vastly overheated.

"There is nothing in her proposals that would destroy Medicare or harm present or future beneficiaries," said John Rother, the president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care and the former executive vice president for policy at AARP -- the seniors’ group that would presumably be at most direct risk if Medicare collapsed. Clinton is urging "changes, yes, quite a few. But nothing that would harm the program or those it serves."

Rena M. Conti, a health policy specialist at the University of Chicago, agreed.

"Nothing I am aware her saying to date would imply that she aims to dismantle the current Medicare program or take away benefits that seniors currently enjoy or bankrupt the trust fund that is used to finance some current Medicare benefits for seniors," she said.

Our ruling

Donald Trump Jr. said Clinton is proposing "destroying Medicare for seniors."

Clinton is certainly not proposing that in a literal sense, and experts we contacted agreed that her actual policy proposals -- especially making Medicare an option for those between 55 and 65 -- were ambitious but were hardly a dagger at the heart of the program.

We rate the claim False.

Trump campaign chair pins Melania plagiarism story on Hillary Clinton's campaign

==================================

Our ruling

Manafort said, "The Clinton camp was the first to get it out there and try to say there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave."

The Clinton campaign has barely reacted to the claims that Melania Trump took some phrases from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. A Twitter user in Los Angeles, who has no Clinton campaign ties, was the first to draw attention to the similarities between the two speeches.

We rate Manafort's claim False.

==================================

Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort said the most-covered story from the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention was fed to the press by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Trump’s wife, Melania, was the headline speaker Monday night in Cleveland, but it appears she borrowed some words from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama. Read our comparison of the two speeches here.

"There’s a political tint to this whole issue," Manafort said in a televised statement July 19. "The Clinton camp was the first to get it out there and try to say there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave. It’s just another example, as far as we’re concerned, that when Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person."

Given the extensive media coverage of this story, we were curious about Manafort’s claim that the Clinton campaign planted it.

As it turns out, the Clinton campaign was not the first to note similarities between the Trump and Obama speeches. It was Jarrett Hill, a Los Angeles-based Twitter user who describes himself as an interior designer and a journalist.

"Melania must’ve liked Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention speech, since she plagiarized it," Hill tweeted at 10:40 p.m. Monday night.

Melania must’ve liked Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention speech, since she plagiarized it.

Hill told PolitiFact that he was watching Trump’s speech, and a couple of the lines made him think, "Whoa, that’s weird. I heard that before." He then tweeted at some NBC journalists to draw their attention to the similarities to Obama’s speech, and the story blew up.

Hill said he has "literally no ties to the Clinton campaign," though he is a registered Democrat. He has not heard from anyone involved with the Clinton campaign before or since he uncovered the potential plagiarism.

Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri denied that it is the story’s source in a tweet.

Nice try, not true. @PaulManafort, blaming Hillary Clinton isn't the answer for ever Trump campaign problem. https://twitter.com/daveweigel/status/755400415508893696 

 

In fact, the Clinton campaign has not issued any statement or public response to the story, other than the tweet from Palmieri's personal account. One arm, Correct the Record, retweeted one of Hill’s tweets. A few individual campaign staffers have tweeted about it, too.

But this was all after Hill made the original connection.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz if the Democratic Party or Clinton campaign planted the attack on Melania Trump.

Wasserman Schultz did not reply with a flat "no," but she said, "the Trump Organization, whether it's Paul Manafort or anyone, all the way up to Donald Trump himself, anytime they are caught red-handed engaging in distortions, inaccuracies, a fact pattern that is clearly not accurate, they blame someone else. And so they should be prepared to be held accountable for the content of anything delivered from the stage of the Republican National Convention."

We tried to reach Donald Trump’s campaign multiple times but did not hear back.

Our ruling

Manafort said, "The Clinton camp was the first to get it out there and try to say there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave."

The Clinton campaign has barely reacted to the claims that Melania Trump took some phrases from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. A Twitter user in Los Angeles, who has no Clinton campaign ties, was the first to draw attention to the similarities between the two speeches.

We rate Manafort's claim False.

Despite new adverb, Trump's claim about Clinton wanting to 'abolish' 2nd Amendment is still False

Our ruling

Trump said, "My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment."

The addition of the word essentially doesn’t change the accuracy of this claim. We found no evidence of Clinton ever saying verbatim or suggesting explicitly she wants to abolish the Second Amendment. The bulk of her comments suggest the opposite: She wants to enact stricter gun control, but has no objection to responsible gun ownership.

Gun advocates say Trump’s claim is backed up by Clinton’s openness to a gun buyback program and her disagreement with a Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment. But whether or not these cherry-picked comments actually reveal Clinton’s intentions is a matter of interpretation.

We rate Trump’s claim False.

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP)

In officially accepting the GOP presidential nomination, Donald Trump tried to finesse one of his favorite but false attacks on the campaign trail:

"My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment,"  Trump said July 21 in Cleveland.

It’s nice that Trump added the word "essentially," but the charge is still not without faults.

When we last looked at the claim, we found no evidence that Clinton has ever said she wants to repeal or abolish the Second Amendment. She has called for stronger regulations, but continuously affirms her support for the right to bear arms.

However, gun rights advocates argue that it’s reasonable to infer from a few comments that she wants to roll back the Second Amendment as it’s currently interpreted.

Straight shooting on the campaign trail

In both her 2008 and 2016 White House bids, Clinton has called for more gun control all the while saying she "believes in the Second Amendment."

Here are a few examples of comments she’s made:

• January 2008, Democratic presidential debate: "I believe in the Second Amendment. People have a right to bear arms. But I also believe that we can common-sensically approach this."

• August 2015, in response to the on-air murders of a news crew in Virginia: "We are smart enough, compassionate enough to balance legitimate Second Amendment rights concerns with preventive measures and control measures, so whatever motivated this murderer ... we will not see more needless, senseless deaths."

• January 2016, on Twitter: "Nobody's attacking the Second Amendment. We can protect Americans' rights — and also protect families from gun violence. #GOPdebate"

• June 2016, on ABC’s This Week: "I believe we can have common-sense gun-safety measures consistent with the Second Amendment." (More on this later.)

Setting aside the bulk of Clinton’s comments on protecting the Second Amendment (examples here, here, here, here, here and here), we’ll now go over three points that some gun rights advocates and experts say gives Trump’s charge some credence.

Smoking guns?

Clinton riled the gun lobby with two eyebrow-raising comments last fall and one from this spring.

Clinton said in October 2015 a national gun buyback program like Australia’s compulsory program was "worth looking into." After a gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996, Australia banned semiautomatic and automatic weapons and enacted a mandatory buyback of the newly prohibited guns.

That program is "incompatible with private ownership of guns," Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told us in May. (The National Rifle Association shares this view.)

The full context of Clinton’s response, however, suggests she may have misspoken or not fully understood Australia’s program, as she also evoked voluntary buybacks as potential models for a U.S. program.

Second, Clinton said in a leaked recording of a private fundraiser that she thinks the Supreme Court "is wrong on the Second Amendment," referring to its landmark ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller. In a 5-4 decision, the Court struck down Washington’s handgun ban and recognized that the Second Amendment applies to the individual’s right to bear arms.

Experts who support gun rights told us undoing Heller basically ends the Second Amendment as currently interpreted. They pointed out that former Justice Department officials under President Bill Clinton and his appointees Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued in Heller that gun regulations do not violate the Second Amendment because it primarily pertains to a well-regulated militia, not the individual right to bear arms.

Clinton, in her June interview on This Week, added fuel to the fire when she appeared to talk about the individual right as a hypothetical.

"Do you believe that their conclusion that an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right?" host George Stephanopoulos asked.

"If it is a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right, is subject to reasonable regulation," she responded. "And what people have done with (the Heller) decision is to take it as far as they possibly can and reject what has been our history from the very beginning of the republic, where some of the earliest laws that were passed were about firearms."

The NRA and voices on the right seized upon these comments as proof that Clinton doesn’t really believe in the individual right to bear arms. But that ignores what she said immediately after:

"So I think it's important to recognize that reasonable people can say, as I do, responsible gun owners have a right — I have no objection to that. But the rest of the American public has a right to require certain kinds of regularity, responsible actions to protect everyone else."

UCLA Second Amendment expert Adam Winkler, meanwhile, said that the accuracy of Trump’s charge depends on Clinton’s grounds for rejecting Heller. (According to news reports from the 2008 election, she supported Washington’s handgun ban.)

"If she thought the reasoning was wrong, but the result right, then she would fit in with a number of strong pro-gun advocates," he said. "If, however, she thought there should be no protection for gun rights, then Trump's claim comes closer to the truth."

The Clinton campaign previously told us Clinton "believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe."

This suggests Clinton disagrees with the court declaring the district’s ban on handguns unconstitutional, not necessarily the individual right itself — a position that’s more or less in line with the George W. Bush administration’s position on Heller of recognizing the right but allowing reasonable curtailment.

Our ruling

Trump said, "My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment."

The addition of the word essentially doesn’t change the accuracy of this claim. We found no evidence of Clinton ever saying verbatim or suggesting explicitly she wants to abolish the Second Amendment. The bulk of her comments suggest the opposite: She wants to enact stricter gun control, but has no objection to responsible gun ownership.

Gun advocates say Trump’s claim is backed up by Clinton’s openness to a gun buyback program and her disagreement with a Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment. But whether or not these cherry-picked comments actually reveal Clinton’s intentions is a matter of interpretation.

We rate Trump’s claim False.

Checking the facts from Donald Trump's speech

A closer look at some of the claims made during Republican nominee's acceptance on Thursday

The Associated Press Posted: Jul 22, 2016 12:53 AM ETLast Updated: Jul 22, 2016 12:53 AM ET, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/a...fact-check-1.3690469

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump, speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump, speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Despite promising "the truth, and nothing else" in his convention speech, Donald Trump presented the nation with a series of previously debunked claims and some new ones Thursday night — about the U.S. tax burden, the perils facing police, Hillary Clinton's record and more.

Source -- http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/a...fact-check-1.3690469

Donald Trump wrong that Tim Kaine took more gifts than Bob McDonnell

=====================================

Our ruling

Trump, speaking about gift-taking, said, "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what (Tim) Kaine took."

Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts as lieutenant governor and governor, all of which was disclosed as required by state law.

McDonnell disclosed accepting $275,707 in gifts as attorney general and governor. And there was another $177,000 that he didn’t disclose. That comes to a total of $452,707 in gifts - almost three times Kaine’s total.

Trump has got this one dead wrong.

We rate his statement Pants on Fire.

=====================================

NBC's Chuck Todd interviews Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for the July 24 edition of "Meet the Press" about Tim Kaine, Bernie Sanders and his comments about NATO. (NBC)

Donald Trump welcomed U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., to the Democratic presidential ticket on Sunday by assailing the presumptive vice presidential nominee’s ethics.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump said Kaine accepted more political gifts than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

That’s a big claim, because McDonnell, a Republican, stood trial for accepting $177,000 in undisclosed personal gifts from an entrepreneur who was seeking business with the state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned McDonnell’s bribery convictions in June.

"Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what Kaine took," said Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. "And I think, to me, it’s a big problem. Now, how do you take all these gifts? Hundreds of thousands of dollars."

We wondered whether McDonnell’s gift-taking was, in fact, "a fraction" of Kaine’s. Trump’s campaign did not respond to our request for proof. So we set out on our own, comparing gifts Kaine received as lieutenant governor and governor from 2002 to 2010 to those McDonnell accepted as attorney general from 2006 to 2009 and as governor from 2010 to 2014.

During those years, Virginia didn’t limit gifts to its politicians; the only requirement was that officeholders disclose what they accepted.

We researched the online files of the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit organization that keeps records of campaign contributions and financial disclosure statements filed by state politicians.

Kaine  

According to VPAP, Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts. Of that amount, $35,442 came when he was lieutenant governor from 2002 to 2006, and $126,641 came when he was governor the next four years.

Most of the money was for political travel. The gifts include $45,000 that Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign paid for Kaine’s airline and lodging expenses as a surrogate speaker.

Also on the list were $20,000 in travel reimbursements from Moving Virginia Forward, a PAC Kaine set up for political expenses. He listed another $11,000 in travel financed by the Democratic Party of Virginia.

Kaine also accepted some personal gifts. The largest was use of a political donor’s home in the Caribbean for a vacation shortly after Kaine was elected governor in 2005. On a disclosure form, Kaine estimated the in-kind value of the lodging at $18,000.

He also accepted $5,500 in clothing from Stuart Siegel, chairman of S&K Famous Brands Inc. And he accepted a variety of tickets to football and basketball games and even a concert by the Dave Matthews Band.

All of these gifts were disclosed. There have been no allegations that Kaine accepted undisclosed gifts.

McDonnell

According to VPAP, McDonnell disclosed $275,707 in gifts. Of that amount, $60,293 came when he was attorney general, and $215,414 came when he was governor.  

Some of the money was used for political travel, but it’s hard to get an idea of how much, because McDonnell did not consistently report the purpose for his travels. Some of the gifts also went to McDonnell’s enjoyment, including at least $34,000 in tickets and travel to Washington Redskins and University of Notre Dame football games.

In addition, as we noted earlier, McDonnell and his family accepted $177,000 in undisclosed gifts and special loans from a businessman who was seeking the state’s help in marketing a dietary supplement.

These gifts included a $6,000 Rolex watch; use of the businessman’s vacation home at Smith Mountain Lake; $15,000 for the catering bill at the wedding of McDonnell’s oldest daughter, as well as a $10,000 wedding check to her; and a designer gown for McDonnell’s wife.

All told, McDonnell’s disclosed and undisclosed gifts come to $452,707.

Our ruling

Trump, speaking about gift-taking, said, "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what (Tim) Kaine took."

Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts as lieutenant governor and governor, all of which was disclosed as required by state law.

McDonnell disclosed accepting $275,707 in gifts as attorney general and governor. And there was another $177,000 that he didn’t disclose. That comes to a total of $452,707 in gifts - almost three times Kaine’s total.

Trump has got this one dead wrong.

We rate his statement Pants on Fire.

 

===============

About this statement:

Published: Sunday, July 24th, 2016 at 5:14 p.m.

Researched by: Warren Fiske

Edited by: Brice Anderson

Subjects: Ethics

Sources:

Donald Trump, Interview on "Meet the Press," July 24, 2016

Virginia Public Access Project, Tim Kaine gifts, 2002-2009, accessed July 24, 2016

The Washington Post, "Kaine’s acceptance of gifts in Virginia could create opening for Republicans," July 22, 2016

The Washington Post, "McDonnell’s gift list," assessed July 24, 2016

Trump tweets

Donald Trump Jr. says unemployment rates are manipulated for political purposes

=========================

Our ruling

Because his claim is in the realm of the ridiculous, we rate it Pants on Fire!

Trump Jr. said that unemployment numbers "are artificial numbers. These are numbers that are massaged to make the existing economy look good, to make this administration look good when, in fact, it's a total disaster."

The economists with whom we spoke said Trump is wrong to question the integrity of the federal unemployment data. The method of developing the estimates have been used for decades, their limitations are widely recognized, other economic indicators have confirmed their reliability, and there's no evidence that they have been massaged for political purposes.

=========================

Are the unemployment numbers being manipulated to make the Obama administration look good?

That was the contention of Donald Trump Jr., son of the Republican presidential nominee, during the July 24 edition of CNN's State of the Union.

Trump was making a point frequently made by his father — that the official unemployment rate is lower than it should be because it doesn't take into account the people who would like a job but have stopped looking.

"The way we actually measure unemployment is after x number of months if someone can't find a job, congratulations, they're miraculously off," he said. "That doesn't count" in the calculation.

"These are artificial numbers," Trump continued. "These are numbers that are massaged to make the existing economy look good, to make this administration look good when, in fact, it's a total disaster. ... Those are the people we want to put to work"

He's correct that the widely-reported unemployment number doesn't capture the full employment picture. But for this check, we'll talk about whether the numbers are massaged to make the economy look better than it is.

We've looked at the issue before with Donald Trump Sr. when he claimed the "real" rate was 18 to 20 percent (False) or may be as high as 42 percent (Pants on Fire).

The unemployment rate is developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics based in part on data from interviews of about 60,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau  As Trump Jr. indicated, it only includes people who have recently looked for a job.

But that's the way it's consistently been done for decades. Alternative methods have their own limitations.

Allegations of manipulation

When we asked for evidence that the numbers are distorted for political reasons, Trump campaign spokesman Dan Kowalski referred us to a 2013 New York Post story alleging that the Census Bureau "faked" the sharp drop in the September 2012 unemployment rate just prior to the election that gave Obama a second term.

The story's only identified source was a Census employee, Julius Buckmon, who told the Post that his superiors had told him to make up interviews that serve as the basis for the statistic.

Two problems: Buckmon had left the bureau by 2012, and he told the paper he was never told to sway the statistic in favor of Obama.

As we reported in 2013, even a worker who made up interviews wouldn't be able to pull enough statistical weight to significantly affect the unemployment rate for any month.

A typical worker handles data from 35 to 55 of the 60,000 or so households surveyed. And the bureau routinely double-checks its findings by having households re-interviewed by a different person in an attempt to look for inconsistencies that might point to manipulation.

The Office of the Inspector General at the Commerce Department concluded in May 2014 that there was "no evidence" that the numbers had been manipulated in the runup to Obama's reelection, especially when other sources confirmed the trend.

The report said: "It would have taken 78 Census Bureau Field Representatives working together, in a coordinated way, to report each and every unemployed person included in their sample as 'employed' or 'not in labor force' during September 2012" to produce that kind of manipulation.

Since then, unemployment has continued to fall.

Artificial numbers?

Other experts joined Baker in dismissing the younger Trump’s allegation about the standard unemployment rate.

"The same basic definition of the unemployment rate has been used (with minor changes) going back almost all the way to World War II, under both Republican and Democratic administrations," said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

"This measure has been consistently produced following the same basic methodology in the U.S. and copied around the world for over 50 years," said Tara Sinclair, an economist at George Washington University.

And what about Trump's complaint that the numbers are skewed by not including people who have given up looking for work?

Sinclair said the BLS tries to track that through a variation of the unemployment rate known as U-6, or the "underutilization" rate. This version includes people who have stopped looking for work but say they would start if the market improved, people working part-time because they can't get full-time work, along with the people included in the standard unemployment rate.

By it's nature, the U-6 rate is higher. The June rate was 9.6 percent compared to the conventional unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.

But that estimate has its limitations as well. It doesn’t count recent graduates who never entered the labor market in the first place because they feared there would be no jobs for them, and it doesn’t count people who chose to take care of their kids full-time, went back to school or retired early to avoid having to compete for a job.

By that statistic, the economy is not as healthy as the conventional unemployment estimate would indicate.

Casey Mulligan, professor of economics at the University of Chicago, said it's fair for the younger Trump to dispute the standard unemployment rate as an indicator of economic performance because the labor market has not gained the type of strength you would expect with the current unemployment rate.

It's a question of which BLS data to use "rather than the competence of the BLS per se," he said.

But Harvard University government professor Jeffrey Frankel said the important thing "is to be consistent across time in which measure you use. It wouldn't be right to switch from looking at the conventional rate to a measure that includes discouraged workers just because you don't like the incumbent president and want to make things look bad for him."

Other experts were more blunt.

Trump’s comment "is a reprise of the same nonsense his father floated a few months ago. It is yet another conspiracy theory that the Trumps have grabbed onto," said Neil Buchanan, a George Washington University law professor.

The limitations of the unemployment number are well known, he said. "Everyone who reads an article in a decent newspaper about the employment picture each month reads about discouraged workers, part-time workers, and so on."

"There are plenty of grounds for us nerd-types to complain about the accuracy of the BLS numbers," said Dean Baker, co-director of the left-leaning Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington. "No survey is perfect and there will always be issues with how a survey is conducted and questions are posed. But the idea that BLS cooks numbers is beyond ridiculous."

Our ruling

Trump Jr. said that unemployment numbers "are artificial numbers. These are numbers that are massaged to make the existing economy look good, to make this administration look good when, in fact, it's a total disaster."

The economists with whom we spoke said Trump is wrong to question the integrity of the federal unemployment data. The method of developing the estimates have been used for decades, their limitations are widely recognized, other economic indicators have confirmed their reliability, and there's no evidence that they have been massaged for political purposes.

Because his claim is in the realm of the ridiculous, we rate it Pants on Fire!

No, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders wouldn't have won even if super delegates were nixed

===================================

Our ruling

We rate Trump’s claim False.

Trump tweeted, "An analysis showed that Bernie Sanders would have won the Democratic nomination if it were not for the Super Delegates."

This does not check out. Sanders would have still lost without superdelegates in the mix, because Clinton won a majority of the popular vote and pledged delegates.

On the contrary, the only way for Sanders to have won is he would have been able to persuade more superdelegates to switch their votes from Clinton to him.

===================================

Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets about Bernie Sanders over the weekend, at times commiserating with the senator over their shared disdain for the "rigged" political system and at others attacking Sanders for giving into it by endorsing Hillary Clinton.

The Republican nominee commented on Wikileaks’ release of Democratic National Committee emails in which officials appear to have, among other things, mused over questioning Sanders’ religion and attacked campaign manager Jeff Weaver.

"An analysis showed that Bernie Sanders would have won the Democratic nomination if it were not for the Super Delegates," he tweeted.

This last Trump tweet piqued our interest. Would it really be Sanders accepting the nomination this week at the DNC if not for superdelegates?

Superdelegates, if you’ll remember from our primer, are the party officials and bigshots who make up about one-sixth of the delegates in the Democratic Party’s system. Under the rules that governed this year’s primaries, the superdelegates weren’t bound to the voting results in their state and could vote for whomever they wish.

Many superdelegates backed Clinton before voting even began, and she commanded a disproportionate lead in superdelegates throughout the primaries, eliciting many cries of unfairness and cronyism from voters and Sanders supporters.  

But Trump is wrong. Sanders would not have won the primary without these party insiders.

The Trump campaign didn’t get back to us, but the "analysis" he may have been referring to could be a blog post on Gateway Pundit, a conservative newsblog.

The post’s headline is "NOTE TO SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie Would Have Won If Not for Super Delegate System!" It makes a flawed argument that Sanders would have nabbed the nomination if all of the Clinton superdelegates backed him instead.  

That math checks out on paper, but it is nonsensical in reality.  The post offers no rationale for why the superdelegates should flip their votes against the popular vote (Clinton won 3.8 million more than Sanders). Experts told PolitiFact Florida that superdelegates could have played a difference if the race was closer. And to top it off, Sanders himself repeatedly advocated for superdelegates to follow the will of their state’s voters.

In other scenarios, such as binding superdelegates to their state’s vote proportionally or taking them out of the system all together, Sanders would have still been unable to reach the magical 2,383-threshold of delegates needed to capture the nomination and would still trail Clinton.

Here’s a breakdown of how many superdelegates Clinton and Sanders would have received under different primary systems, based on Green Papers’ superdelegate count.

 

Clinton

Total (superdelegates)

Sanders

Total (superdelegates)

Without superdelegates (Trump suggestion)

2,200

1,831

With unbound superdelegates (current system)

2,771 (571)

1,875 (44)

With winner-take-all superdelegates

2,721 (521)

2,019 (188)

With proportional allocation of superdelegates

2,590 (390)

2,150 (319)

(A note about our delegate methodology: Delegate counts vary from publication to publication, so we used Real Clear Politics and Green Papers, sources listed by the Gateway Pundit blog post. While RCP offers a superdelegate count, it does not offer state-by-state breakdowns so we referred to Green Papers for its superdelegate breakdown.)

The bottom line: Binding the superdelegates to the winner of their state’s primary or caucus would have closed the delegate gap between Clinton and Sanders, but it wouldn’t have been enough for Sanders to win.

Our ruling

Trump tweeted, "An analysis showed that Bernie Sanders would have won the Democratic nomination if it were not for the Super Delegates."

This does not check out. Sanders would have still lost without superdelegates in the mix, because Clinton won a majority of the popular vote and pledged delegates.

On the contrary, the only way for Sanders to have won is he would have been able to persuade more superdelegates to switch their votes from Clinton to him.

We rate Trump’s claim False.

Trump campaign wrong about Clinton influence on debates against Sanders, Trump

==================================

We rate Manafort’s claim False.

==================================

Our ruling

Manafort said, "The DNC hack showed you that the Clinton campaign was working to schedule debates against Sanders" and the Clinton campaign is continuing this "ploy" against Trump.

Experts agree the Democratic primary debate schedule was more advantageous to Clinton than Sanders, but there is no evidence in the DNC emails that show Clinton conspired to make this happen.

As for the notion that Clinton rigged the presidential debate schedule ahead of the general election, experts told us it’s pretty absurd. The commission that plans the debates released its schedule six months before the NFL released theirs, and almost a year before Clinton and Trump became the Democratic and Republican nominees.  

We rate Manafort’s claim False.

==================================

The day after Hillary Clinton wrapped up the Democratic nomination for president, Republican rival Donald Trump was already accusing her of "rigging" the presidential debates to coincide with NFL games in the fall.

"As usual, Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates so 2 are up against major NFL games. Same as last time w/ Bernie. Unacceptable!" Trump tweeted.

Trump doubled down on his charge Sunday, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he "got a letter from the NFL saying this is ridiculous" (which the NFL denies).

Campaign chairman Paul Manafort echoed the complaint on NBC’s Meet the Press.

"The DNC hack showed you that the Clinton campaign was working to schedule debates against (Bernie) Sanders, which have the least possible viewing audience. Mr. Trump’s saying, Look we want the maximum viewing audience," Manafort said. "We're not going to fall ploy to the Hillary Clinton ploy that she did against Bernie Sanders of trying to have the lowest viewing audience. We want the biggest."

It is well-established that the Democrats held fewer primary debates on nights with a lighter audience and with more popular programming.

However, Manafort’s statement overplays what’s in the DNC emails and ignores how presidential primary and general election debates are actually set.

There is no evidence in leaked DNC emails that the Clinton campaign lobbied for weekend dates or fewer debates in her primary fight against Sanders. There is also no evidence that the Clinton campaign had any hand in the setting the debates between Trump and Clinton.

A bipartisan commission released the chosen dates 11 months before Clinton and Trump secured the party’s nomination.

Debating the Democratic debates

We asked the Trump campaign for specific emails released by WikiLeaks that prove Manafort’s point about the Clinton campaign colluding to minimize debate viewership, but we didn’t hear back. Our own search turned up no smoking emails.

The party announced it would host six debates in May 2015, and released in August dates for the first four square-offs — three of which fell on weekends. Many criticized the DNC for the paucity and poor timing of these debates, and experts we spoke with agreed that the schedule benefitted Clinton.

Not only, however, do zero emails in the WikiLeaks DNC archive involve anything about the scheduling of these planned debates. There is also no proof of the Clinton campaign having any say over the dates. In most exchanges, DNC staffers are discussing logistics (i.e. asking MSNBC if anchor Chris Matthews would be willing to meet with donors and requesting expense invoices) or media coverage and backlash.

Overall, there’s no evidence of intent to harm Sanders with the debates or collusion between the Clinton camp and the DNC, said Kathleen Jamieson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who wrote the book Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate.

Aaron Kall, the director of debate at the University of Michigan, commended the DNC for adding three more debates after a series of primary wins for Sanders in early 2016. He said the changed philosophy may be the best evidence that the DNC was listening to Democratic voters.

A scuttled Fox debate

Manafort may have been alluding to a few email threads that detail negotiations over a fourth Fox News debate in California that ultimately didn’t happen. While some backs-and-forth indicate a lack of enthusiasm, they do not show the DNC or the Clinton actively trying to schedule the debate to hurt Sanders.

Former DNC chair Wasserman Schultz wasn’t thrilled about the idea at first, but her objection seemed to be Fox News hosting, not the idea of an extra debate in general.

"Boy, they (Fox News) are laying it on thick," she wrote May 13. "The RNC would never do an MSNBC debate for the same reason that we shouldn't do this one."

Negotiations nonetheless continued as the Clinton campaign and DNC seemed to be at odds with the Sanders campaign over whether the debate would be sanctioned by the party (which would give the DNC more control).

Fox eventually sent invites to both camps with the DNC’s blessing, and Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs emailed the DNC May 18 notifying them that Sanders had accepted the invite. "Lol," responded DNC communications director Luis Miranda.

Wasserman Schultz told her staffers that the Clinton declined to "take the bait" May 19, and the Clinton campaign declined Fox’s invite a few days later, squashing the possibility of a fourth debate.

Wasserman Schultz addressed the criticism lobbed at her for the debates specifically in an May 18 email, pushing back on the notion she "put them on weekends so people wouldn’t see them" and arguing that the DNC worked with the networks and campaigns on the dates.

"Debates were a success! And when he (Sanders) wanted more, she went to bat with the Clinton campaign and got more debates," Wasserman Schultz wrote.

General confusion, not collusion

Manafort’s second charge that Clinton had something to do with putting two general election debates on nights with football games is less credible.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is a bipartisan organization that works independently of the campaigns. As our friends at the Washington Post Fact-Checker pointed out, the commission released its schedule in September 2015, long before Trump and Clinton became party nominees and long before the NFL released its schedule in April 2016.

"The Commission on Presidential Debates started working more than 18 months ago to identify religious and federal holidays, baseball league playoff games, NFL games, and other events in order to select the best nights for the 2016 debate. It is impossible to avoid all sporting events, and there have been nights on which debates and games occurred in most election cycles. A debate has never been rescheduled as a result," the commission said in a statement.

The Trump campaign’s charges are "absolutely baseless," said Alan Schroeder, a professor at Northeastern University who wrote Presidential Debates: Fifty Years of High-Risk TV.

"There is no rigging, and nothing different about this year's schedule from previous cycles," Schroeder told us.

Kall of the University of Michigan said the commission does not consult the campaigns during the planning process. "They don’t talk to any of the campaigns. They come up with a schedule that works with the hosts and they also have to juggle religious holidays."

Given that there are 256 NFL games from early September to December, Kall said, it would be near impossible to schedule a debate that wasn’t on a weekend or holiday and didn’t coincide with a game. Plus, it’s happened before, Jamieson reminded us.

Take, for example, the last debate of the 2012 presidential election. It occurred Oct. 22, the same night as a Detroit Lions game against the Chicago Bears. It still pulled in 59.2 million viewers.

Trump and Clinton’s sparring will likely draw even bigger audiences considering Trump’s ability to command press and public attention and Clinton’s decades-long tenure in the political limelight. Even with the NFL conflicts, Kall told us he expects at least 70 million if not 100 million viewers.

In other words, Trump will probably get his maximum viewing audience.

Our ruling

Manafort said, "The DNC hack showed you that the Clinton campaign was working to schedule debates against Sanders" and the Clinton campaign is continuing this "ploy" against Trump.

Experts agree the Democratic primary debate schedule was more advantageous to Clinton than Sanders, but there is no evidence in the DNC emails that show Clinton conspired to make this happen.

As for the notion that Clinton rigged the presidential debate schedule ahead of the general election, experts told us it’s pretty absurd. The commission that plans the debates released its schedule six months before the NFL released theirs, and almost a year before Clinton and Trump became the Democratic and Republican nominees.  

We rate Manafort’s claim False.

 

About this statement:

Published: Sunday, July 31st, 2016 at 6:36 p.m.

Researched by: Linda Qiu

Edited by: Katie Sanders

Subjects: Debates

Sources:

NBC, Meet the Press, July 31, 2016

CNN, "Clinton, Democratic presidential opponents to debate six times," May 5, 2015

Medium, "Announcing the Democratic Debate Schedule," Aug. 6, 2015

PolitiFact Florida, "Democratic debates set to 'maximize' exposure, Wasserman Schultz claims, but evidence is dubious," Jan. 20, 2016

Wikileaks, DNC email archive, accessed July 31, 2016

Washington Post, "What we know about the presidential debates and the NFL schedule," July 31, 2016

NFL, "NFL releases 2016 regular-season schedule," April 14, 2016

NFL, "Creating the NFL Schedule," accessed July 31, 2016

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking the third presidential debate," Oct. 22, 2012

NFL, "NFL Schedule 2012; Week 7," accessed July 31, 2016

Washington Post, "Here are the facts about the debate over debates," July 31, 2016

Interview with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, July 31, 2016

Interview with Aaron Kall, director of debate at the University of Michigan, July 31, 2016

Email interview with Alan Schroeder, professor at Northeastern University, July 31, 2016

Email interview with the Commission on Presidential Debates, July 31, 2016

Donald Trump gets a Full Flop for whether he's had a relationship to Vladimir Putin

==============================

Our ruling

We rate this a Full Flop.

Trump has changed what he’s said about whether he’s had a relationship with Putin.

In 2013, he said, "I do have a relationship." In 2014 he said, "I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin" and said the Russian leader had sent him a present. In 2015, he said, "I got to know him very well" due to their joint appearance on 60 Minutes.

More recently, though, Trump has said, "I never met Putin -- I don't know who Putin is" and "I have no relationship with him."

We rate this a Full Flop.

==============================

The intrusion into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, allegedly by Russian hackers, has put a renewed spotlight on Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin.

When Trump sat for an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos shortly after the Democratic National Convention, Stephanopoulos brought up the topic. Trump told Stephanopoulos that he didn’t have a relationship with Putin.

Stephanopoulos challenged him on this -- and the host was on solid ground. Trump’s denial of a relationship with Putin contradicted what he had said on multiple previous occasions.

Prior to early 2016, Trump seemed to tout his ties to the Russian leader. Trump, a lifelong businessman, boasted of foreign policy experience based on his experience hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. For instance, during an interview with Fox News on May 6, 2016, Trump told host Bret Baier, "I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event. An incredible success."

But the closeness Trump claims to Putin-era Russia has prompted questions from critics, including foreign policy professionals in both parties. The U.S.  government sees Russia as a geopolitical rival and Putin in particular as a sometimes problematic force in international relations.

Trump’s seeming fondness for Putin has worried critics in both parties.

For instance, Trump took flak a few days before the Stephanopoulos interview after he seemed to encourage Russia to spy on the United States in order to find thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," he said. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump said during a news conference in Florida."

So, facing growing questions about the wisdom of attaching his star to Putin’s, has Trump changed his position on whether the two have had a relationship? Here’s a closer look.

Trump’s earlier comments suggesting a relationship with Putin

Here are four occasions between 2013 and 2015 when Trump touted his ties to Putin.

When Thomas Roberts of MSNBC asked Trump, "Do you have a relationship with Vladimir Putin? A conversational relationship or anything that you feel you have sway or influence over his government?" Trump responded, "I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today. He's probably very interested in what you and I am saying today, and I'm sure he's going to be seeing it in some form." -- interview, November, 2013

• "You know, I was in Moscow a couple of months ago. I own the Miss Universe Pageant and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, a beautiful present." -- address at the CPAC conference, March 2014

• "Russia does not respect our country any longer. They see we've been greatly weakened, both militarily and otherwise, and he certainly does not respect President Obama. So what I would do—as an example, I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success. The show was live from Moscow, and we had tremendous success there and it was amazing, but to do well, you have to get the other side to respect you, and he does not respect our president, which is very sad." -- address at the National Press Club, May 2014

• "As far as the Ukraine is concerned … if Putin wants to go in -- and I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates, and we did very well that night." -- portion of an answer at the Fox Business News debate, Nov. 2015. (The notion that the two men appeared together on 60 Minutes has been debunked. As Time magazine put it succinctly, "In fact, they weren’t even on the same continent.")

The Stephanopoulos interview

Recently, though, Trump has changed his tune.

Here are excerpts from the Trump-Stephanopoulos interview, which aired on ABC’s This Week on July 31.

Stephanopoulos: "Let's talk about Russia. You made a lot of headlines with Russia this week. What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?"

Trump: "I have no relationship to -- with him. I have no relationship with him."

Stephanopoulos: "But if you have no relationship with Putin, then why did you say in 2013, I do have a relationship. In 2014, I spoke…"

Trump: "Because he has said nice things about me over the years. I remember years ago, he said something -- many years ago, he said something very nice about me. I said something good about him when Larry King was on. This was a long time ago. And I said he is a tough cookie or something to that effect. He said something nice about me. This has been going on. We did 60 Minutes together. By the way, not together-together, meaning he was probably shot in Moscow…."

Stephanopoulos: "Well, he was in Moscow…."

Trump: "And I was shot in New York."

Stephanopoulos: "You were in New York. But that's the thing."

Trump: "No, just so you understand, he said very nice things about me, but I have no relationship with him. I don't -- I've never met him. … I have no relationship with Putin. I don't think I've ever met him. I never met him. … I mean if he's in the same room or something. But I don't think so. ..."

Stephanopoulos: "You've never spoken to him on the phone?"

Trump: "I have never spoken to him on the phone, no. … Well, I don't know what it means by having a relationship. I mean he was saying very good things about me, but I don't have a relationship with him. I didn't meet him. I haven't spent time with him. I didn't have dinner with him. I didn't go hiking with him. I don't know -- and I wouldn't know him from Adam except I see his picture and I would know what he looks like."

Also, on July 27, Trump said at a press conference in Florida, "I never met Putin -- I don't know who Putin is. He said one nice thing about me. He said I'm a genius. I said thank you very much to the newspaper and that was the end of it. I never met Putin."

For the record: Media outlets have said the more accurate translation for what Putin said was "flamboyant," rather than "genius," and Putin subsequently confirmed that he was trying to indicate "flamboyant" when he made his his remark.

Our ruling

Trump has changed what he’s said about whether he’s had a relationship with Putin.

In 2013, he said, "I do have a relationship." In 2014 he said, "I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin" and said the Russian leader had sent him a present. In 2015, he said, "I got to know him very well" due to their joint appearance on 60 Minutes.

More recently, though, Trump has said, "I never met Putin -- I don't know who Putin is" and "I have no relationship with him."

We rate this a Full Flop.

Donald Trump wrongly says Hillary Clinton wants to raise taxes on the middle class

=============================

Our ruling

We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

The Trump campaign said, "Hillary Clinton says  she wants to, ‘raise taxes on the middle class.’ "

According to the transcript, numerous reporters, experts and a computer program, Clinton said the exact opposite.

We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

=============================

Hillary Clinton just admitted to a big tax hike, at least according to Donald Trump.

The Trump campaign sent an email blast to supporters embedded with a video of a Clinton event in Omaha, Neb., entitled, "Hillary Clinton says she wants to ‘raise taxes on the middle class.’"

The subtitles of Clinton’s speech read: "Trump wants to cuts taxes for the super rich. Well, we’re not going there, my friends. I’m telling you right now, we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class."

"Wait what?" the videos continues, before playing the damning sentence in slow motion: "We are going to raise taxes on the middle class."

"Wait, what?" was the reaction of the Clinton campaign too. Spokesman Josh Schwerin told us Clinton actually said the exact opposite.

He pointed to numerous reporters who agreed and forwarded us a transcript of Clinton’s prepared remarks that reads, "We aren’t going to to raise taxes on the middle class."

It’s a classic case of she-heard-he-heard, so we asked experts to arbitrate. They agreed with the Clinton camp and offered some technical evidence to prove it. Get ready for some science.

Alan Yu, a linguistics professor at the University of Chicago who specializes in phonology, ran the audio through a computer program called Praat, which analyzes phonetics.

By analyzing the sound waves, we can see that Clinton was saying "aren’t," because she definitely pronounced the "n," though she didn’t really hit the "t."

Here’s a screenshot of the results:

As you can see, the phoneme (unit of sound) highlighted in pink is an "n," though there’s not a "t." That still suggests she was trying for the word "aren’t."

"It is pretty common for people to not release the final ‘t in word-final -nt clusters and is definitely not likely for someone to release the ‘t’in a three-consonant sequence like ‘ntg’ in ‘aren't going,’" Yu told us. "In any case, since she did pronounce the ‘n’ in ‘aren't’, it is clear that she produced the negated form of the copula ‘are.’"

Edward Flemming, a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also ran the audio through Praat and came up with the same results. But even if we didn’t have Praat, he said, context alone sways the argument in the Clinton camp’s favor.

"Also if she was going to say ‘we are going to’, wouldn’t she contract it to ‘we’re’, as she does a few words earlier?" Flemming pointed out. "To my ears, it is clear that she is saying ‘aren’t’."

Clinton’s tax plan, by the way, does not change the tax rates for the middle class and instead targets the wealthy through small reforms.

Our ruling

The Trump campaign said, "Hillary Clinton says  she wants to, ‘raise taxes on the middle class.’ "

According to the transcript, numerous reporters, experts and a computer program, Clinton said the exact opposite.

We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

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