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

Donald Trump says he didn't see video of cash being transferred for ransom after all

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Our ruling

We rate the claim False.

Trump said he had seen videotape "of the people taking the money off the plane" to pay ransom to Iran for hostages. He and his campaign now acknowledge that they were referring to a different video -- of the hostages themselves being freed -- that did not include any transfer of money from a plane.

We rate the claim False.

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For two days, Donald Trump told rally audiences a detailed account of seeing video footage of stacks of cash being taken off an airplane, destined to pay Iran for the release of American hostages.

Now, even Trump acknowledges that such video footage doesn’t exist.

The issue emerged because news reports suggested that a $400 million cash payment from the U.S. government amounted to ransom for hostages held by Iran. Republicans have charged that a quid pro quo ran counter to longstanding U.S. policy not to pay ransom for hostages. The White House has responded that the payments were the conclusion of a decades-old dispute over funds frozen after the fall of the Shah of Iran and were not a ransom.

But questions surrounding Trump’s depiction of video footage has distracted from the substantive policy dispute over whether and how such a payment should have been made. Almost from the moment Trump mentioned seeing the video, skeptics wondered whether it actually existed, because none had been publicly released.

So what actually happened?

What Trump said

Trump addressed this topic at two different rallies. The first was an Aug. 3 rally in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Here’s what he said:

"I got up this morning, and I pick up the papers, and then I turn on the news, and I see $400 million being shipped in cash, they didn’t want dollars, it’s in different currencies, and it's being shipped overnight to Iran -- $400 million. … I look, and I'll never forget the scene this morning. And remember this: Iran -- I don't think you've heard this anywhere, but here -- Iran provided all of that footage, the tape, of taking that money off that airplane, right? $400 million in cash. … And they have a perfect tape done by obviously a government camera and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane, right? That means that in order to embarrass us further, Iran sent us the tapes, right? It's a military tape. It's a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady. Nobody getting nervous because they're going to be shot because they're shooting a picture of money pouring off a plane."

The next day, he held a rally in Portland, Maine.

He said this:

"You saw that with the airplane coming in. Nice plane. And the airplane coming in. And the money coming off, I guess. Right? That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians. You know why the tape was given to us? Because they want to embarrass our country. They want to embarrass our country. And they want to embarrass our president, because we have a president who's incompetent."

Trump certainly makes it sound as if there’s video footage of the cash being hustled off a plane, and that he’s seen that footage.

The backtrack

But before the second rally was even held, his campaign had already backed off that claim.

The Washington Post reported that late on Aug. 3 -- which was after the Daytona Beach event but before the Portland event -- Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to an email "that asked if the footage Trump was referencing was actually widely shown video of a private plane landing in Switzerland in January with three American prisoners who had just been released by Iran, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian."

According to the Post, Hicks responded in an email, "Yes. Merely the b-roll footage included in every broadcast." (B-roll is a television industry term for pre-recorded videotape spliced into a live report.)

Still, Trump went out and made the remarks again.

After the second rally, Trump himself tweeted that he was referring to a different piece of video. "The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!"

In other words, Trump had seen widely reported video footage of the hostages being released, but described it in some detail -- and incorrectly -- as showing stacks of money being unloaded from a plane.

Here’s a still from the footage of the hostage transfer that was aired on U.S. television.

A final note

On Aug. 5, several hours after Trump’s tweet, conservative websites including the Washington Free Beacon posted footage from what it called an Iranian documentary aired earlier this year in Iran. During a discussion of the hostage transfer, the documentary showed a brief image of a stack of pallets.

According to the Free Beacon, "The footage is part of a February documentary published by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The documentary purported to reveal behind-the-scenes details of the negotiations with the United States to free the American hostages. It maintains the negotiations were tied up in efforts to push the Iran nuclear agreement forward as it moved towards implementation."

The pallets in the footage are partially obscured, and it is too blurry to tell for sure whether these pallets hold piles of currency. "Iran experts who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon said that it is impossible to verify if the images show the same pallets of cash transferred by the Obama administration," the Free Beacon reported.

We checked with the Trump campaign to learn whether this was actually the video he was referring to, even though it didn’t show money "pouring" off a plane and even though it had not aired on U.S. news channels. We did not hear back.

For now, we are going by Trump’s own statement, backed up by Hicks’ statement, that he was referring to a different video -- the widely aired footage that shows the hostages being released, without any money being transferred.

Our ruling

Trump said he had seen videotape "of the people taking the money off the plane" to pay ransom to Iran for hostages. He and his campaign now acknowledge that they were referring to a different video -- of the hostages themselves being freed -- that did not include any transfer of money from a plane.

We rate the claim False.

Donald Trump exaggerates Michigan job losses from coal regulations

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Our ruling

We rate the claim False.

Trump said that "the Obama-Clinton war on coal has cost Michigan over 50,000 jobs." However, this claim is problematic on several levels.

While the number matches one projection of how many potential jobs could be lost from the blockage of coal-fired plants, there’s a difference between actual jobs lost and potential future jobs lost. And the number cited -- an impossible-to-confirm projection based on broadly construed calculations released by a pro-coal group -- should be taken with a big grain of salt.

Trump also ignores that market forces, not just environmental regulations, have driven many of the job losses in the coal sector, and he also ignores that Michigan Republican officials and utilities themselves -- not just the Obama administration -- have pushed the switch away from coal.

We rate the claim False.

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We checked one of the claims from Donald Trump's economic speech in Detroit.

During an economic address at the Detroit Economic Club, Donald Trump tailored some of his statistics to the local audience.

"As a result of recent Obama EPA actions, coal-fired plants across Michigan have either shut down entirely or undergone expensive conversions, making them non-competitive in many cases," Trump said. "The Obama-Clinton war on coal has cost Michigan over 50,000 jobs."

Trump has often criticized efforts by the Obama administration -- and those who find climate change to be a serious concern -- to wean the United States from fossil fuels by tightening federal environmental regulation of coal-fired power plants. Here, we’ll take a look at the second part of Trump’s statement: "The Obama-Clinton war on coal has cost Michigan over 50,000 jobs."

This assertion initially caught our eye because we’d never thought of Michigan as one of the premier coal-producing states. Our suspicion was correct: According to the National Mining Association, Michigan is not on the list of 26 states that currently produce any amount of coal.

Meanwhile, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers engaged in any type of mining in Michigan over the last decade has varied between 5,000 and 7,000, making it essentially impossible to have lost 50,000 existing jobs in that sector. And as the Washington Examiner has noted, Michigan has fewer than 20,000 people working in the electricity generation sector today. So the scale of the job losses Trump cites seem, at least at first blush, to be unlikely.

So what was Trump trying to say? The prepared version of his speech includes a footnote that points to a news release from the National Mining Association published almost five years ago, on Sept. 7, 2011.

Here are some excerpts from that news release, which criticized "Beyond Coal," a campaign against coal-fired power plants coordinated by the environmental group the Sierra Club and cited a study the group released:

"The destructive impact of the ‘Beyond Coal’ campaign is most clearly evident in the following 10 states where power plants blocked by the club represent the highest number of potential jobs (construction and permanent) foregone: Illinois (126,612), Texas (122,065), Montana (114,102), Nevada (75,194), Florida (75,055), Ohio (70,371), Colorado (55,620), Michigan (53,587), Oklahoma (42,581) and Kentucky (38,824)."

In response to an inquiry from PolitiFact, Andrew Wheeler, an energy adviser to the Trump campaign, also pointed to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce analysis that found that 10 delayed or canceled projects in Michigan -- most of them coal-fired plants -- would have created 56,000 jobs up front had they been built.

Between the 53,000 jobs cited by the National Mining Association and the 56,000 jobs cited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wheeler said, "it is obvious that the ‘over 50,000 jobs’ cited by Mr. Trump is accurate."

But just because a campaign is able to footnote a specific number doesn’t mean that the number is meaningful, or as fully contextualized as it ought to be.

Here are a few important things to know about this number.

The number refers to "potential" jobs lost, not actual jobs lost. This is an important point that would not be obvious from the way Trump phrased his statement. By leaving the impression that these were actual jobs lost, Trump’s statistic invites a degree of outrage that isn’t warranted.

And there are good reasons to be cautious about future job projections, especially when they have been framed so broadly as to include vendors to the industry, rail transport, ports and machinery manufacturers.

Any job projections of this sort are subject to rosy estimates -- especially if a group has a vested interest in the issue. In making an argument to the public, all groups will put forward their most favorable case.

Trey Pollard, the national press secretary for the Sierra Club -- which has its own dog in the fight -- said the number of plants being counted by the mining association are essentially "the coal industry’s wildest dreams" -- a reflection of circumstances in which they can build coal plants "in any community they want to."

The number doesn’t reflect that coal is increasingly being replaced by natural gas. Trump’s decision to use this number tells only part of the story of how the electricity sector has been developing.

In recent years, according to federal statistics, coal has been losing ground to natural gas and, to a lesser extent, renewable energy when it comes to electricity generation.

A July 2016 analysis by Sam Evans of the School of Business and Economics at King University in Bristol, Tenn., found that environmental regulation has been a factor in this switch, but a "secondary" one.

"The recent decline in the generation share of coal, and the concurrent rise in the share of natural gas, was mainly a market-driven response to lower natural gas prices that have made natural gas generation more economically attractive," Evans wrote.

This isn’t just about Obama or Clinton. Trump ignores that much of the impetus in Michigan for switching away from coal has come from the state’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, and from utilities themselves.

Snyder has generally continued his support for steps to shift away from coal that began under his Democratic predecessor as governor, Jennifer Granholm. In 2015, Snyder said at an energy conference that "now is the time to look at a long-term transition away from coal," adding that because of the state’s natural gas infrastructure, "we're well positioned to actually have a fair amount of that coal demand go to natural gas."

And Gerry Anderson, the chairman and CEO of DTE Energy, an electric utility that serves more than 2 million customers in the state, has written that "we plan to retire older, less efficient coal plants and build new, cleaner natural gas power plants over the next decade."

Our ruling

Trump said that "the Obama-Clinton war on coal has cost Michigan over 50,000 jobs." However, this claim is problematic on several levels.

While the number matches one projection of how many potential jobs could be lost from the blockage of coal-fired plants, there’s a difference between actual jobs lost and potential future jobs lost. And the number cited -- an impossible-to-confirm projection based on broadly construed calculations released by a pro-coal group -- should be taken with a big grain of salt.

Trump also ignores that market forces, not just environmental regulations, have driven many of the job losses in the coal sector, and he also ignores that Michigan Republican officials and utilities themselves -- not just the Obama administration -- have pushed the switch away from coal.

We rate the claim False.

Donald Trump's baseless claims about the election being 'rigged'

By Linda Qiu

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Our ruling

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. election system is rigged.

We rate Trump’s claim Pants on Fire.

He has cited examples of voter fraud, which is extremely rare, often unintentional and not on a scale large enough to affect a national election.

While there are isolated examples of bought local elections, experts say it cannot be replicated on a national scale. While it is possible to tamper with electronic voting machines, there is no evidence deliberate malfeasance has altered any election.

We rate Trump’s claim Pants on Fire.

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Donald Trump preemptively challenged the results of the November presidential election, claiming in media appearances and rallies that the entire system is "rigged."

Trump’s charges of election fraud are not new to his campaign. He’s tweeted about dead voters delivering President Barack Obama’s victory in 2012, floated charges about multiple votingin the primaries, and suggested that undocumented immigrants "just walk in and vote" in some polling places.

Trump revived these theories as he fell behind Hillary Clinton in the polls (which, according to his surrogates, are "skewed").

"Nov. 8, we'd better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged," he said at an Aug. 1 rally in Columbus, Ohio. "People are going to walk in and they're going to vote 10 times, maybe, who knows?"

"I know last time, you had precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican (Mitt Romney)," he said to Fox News’ Sean Hannity that same night. "I’m telling you, Nov. 8, we better be careful because that election is going to be rigged and I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us."

This is a serious allegation that challenges the integrity of the election, so we asked the Trump campaign to elaborate. We didn’t hear back.

When Trump has offered specifics — people voting though they’re ineligible, people voting multiple times, people impersonating dead voters — he’s actually talking about voter fraud, committed by individuals and committed very rarely.

Stolen 2012 election?

To sow doubts about the 2016 election, Trump pointed to alleged rigging in 2012.

While some precincts in Philadelphia exclusively voted for Obama in 2012, it’s grasping for straws to claim this is evidence for election rigging.

Defending Trump, Fox’s Sean Hannity pointed to a Philadelphia Inquirerarticle that showed 59 precincts in inner-city Philadelphia in which "Mitt Romney did not get a single vote, not one."

But Hannity leaves out that the same article also stated that "such results may not be so startling after all." The Inquirer wrote that 75 to 80 percent of voters in big cities like Philadelphia identify as Democrats, and 93 percent of African-Americans voted for Obama.

When the paper sought out the few registered Republicans living in the 59 districts, it found that several had moved, others didn’t realize they were registered with the party, and others confirmed that they had voted for Obama despite their political identification.

Election inspector Ryan Godfrey, an independent who was a Republican in 2012, called Hannity’s claims "absurd and personally insulting." After all, Godfrey argued, there’s a paper trail for the ballots in Philly and no evidence that he and the other election officials had risked prosecution to collude against Romney.  

Plus, CNN’s Brian Stelter countered, "a Google search would show that there are also precincts in other states, like in Utah, where Obama did not get a single vote."

Trumped up charges of voter fraud

Trump’s claims of voter fraud, which echo arguments for voter ID laws, are also not reflective of reality.

While the U.S. Government Accountability Office has acknowledged that it’s difficult to estimate how often voter fraud happens based on reported incidents, the evidence for rampant fraud is lacking.

News 21 found just 150 alleged cases of double voting, 56 cases of noncitizens voting, and 10 cases of voter impersonation across all elections from 2000 to 2011. Many of these never led to charges, while others were acquitted or dismissed. Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School and an expert on voter fraud, found an even smaller number: 31 credible incidents out of more than 1 billion votes cast from 2000 to 2014.

Put it in another way: You’re more likely to get struck by lightning than to find voter fraud.

When voter fraud does occur, it’s not always intentional. Multiplestudies have traced known cases not to willful deception but to clerical errors or confusion.

For example, one case of a dead person voting (Alan J. Mandell) happened because a poll worker accidentally marked his name instead of the man who actually cast the ballot, Alan J. Mandel. Similarly, in one of just five cases of a noncitizen voting between 2000 and 2004, a permanent resident was told he was eligible and given a voter registration form by a DMV clerk when renewing his license.

So, given the rarity of occurrence, the lack of intent, and a federal penalty of a $10,000 fine or up to five years in prison, experts say it would be extremely difficult to rig an election through the ways Trump has suggested.

"I'd like to see him try to vote 10 times on Election Day. It would be virtually impossible and a knuckle-headed way to try to corrupt an election," said Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Rutgers University who wrote The Myth of Voter Fraud.  

To sway an election, an army of voters would have to visit multiple polling locations each, know the names and addresses of the people they were impersonating and produce fake ID’s or forge their signatures — plus be willing to commit perjury the entire time.

"Campaigns don’t pay people to pretend to be people they’re not. That’s too stupid," said Mary Frances Barry, former chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and author of Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich, a book about electoral fraud.

How to rig an election

From New York’s Tammany Hall to the motto of "vote early and often" popularized in Chicago, election fraud is certainly part of U.S. political history. But election rigging today is constrained to local elections, as implementing a national election heist would be extremely difficult.

"Given the decentralized nature of our elections, there would be no single way to throw the results," said Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. "Instead you’d have to target enough states to make a difference in the Electoral College."

The first way is through buying votes, especially absentee ballots.

Barry’s Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich, which refers to the prize a Louisiana woman received for her vote, documents several cases of local campaigns and political machines purchasing votes, often from nursing homes and poor communities, in exchange for cash, whiskey or a paved driveway.

This is possible on a small scale because of a "corrupt deal" between local election officials and "family fiefdoms" with deep roots in municipal politics, Barry said.

Presidential elections, on the other hand, are under much more scrutiny than sheriff races and subject to federal prosecution. For that reason, and given how complicated organizing the conspiracy across different communities would be, Barry says it’s not probable that a national campaign or outside group would take the risk to buy a few votes.

The second way of rigging elections is through tampering with voting machines (looking at you, Olivia Pope of Scandal). Trump suggested this in 2012 when he warned that machines were switching Romney votes to Obama.

"That’s not an indication of the system being rigged. That’s an indication that it’s lost its calibration," said Pamela Smith of Verified Voting, which monitors technological issues in elections.

She added that Trump likely was referring to voter reports of this common issue of overuse, while election rigging "would require you not noticing." (Smith couldn’t think of any examples of machines being tampered with and said, from her research, issues usually result from programming errors.)

Ballots cast on some electronic voting systems, however, don’t have a paper trail, meaning the votes are not verifiable. Hackers could theoretically alter the results. But this would also require a potential wrongdoer to physically access the machines on Election Day and serious coordination to circumvent all the security and auditing measures in place before, during and after voting, said Smith, adding, "There are very few paths in the present scenario to flip something off the radar."

There’s the added security of Pennsylvania law, which mandates post-election vote audits of randomly selected precincts. The majority of precincts in Virginia rely on paper ballots. And Florida, where use of electronic machines is fairly limited to providing accessibility for voters with disabilities, has a Republican governor (Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump supporter) and secretary of state (who oversees elections).

"Technological rigging or the more classic stuffing of the ballot box are not the kind of things that could be easily done or on the kind of scale that could affect an election," Hasen said. "Trump’s unsupported allegations are dangerous and fantasy."

Our ruling

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. election system is rigged.

He has cited examples of voter fraud, which is extremely rare, often unintentional and not on a scale large enough to affect a national election.

While there are isolated examples of bought local elections, experts say it cannot be replicated on a national scale. While it is possible to tamper with electronic voting machines, there is no evidence deliberate malfeasance has altered any election.

We rate Trump’s claim Pants on Fire.

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About this statement:

Published: Monday, August 15th, 2016 at 3:01 p.m.

Researched by: Linda Qiu

Edited by: Katie Sanders

Subjects: Elections

Sources:

Twitter, Donald Trump, 2012-2016

Philadelphia Inquirer, "In 59 Philadelphia voting divisions, Mitt Romney got zero votes," Nov. 4, 2015

U.S. Government Accountability Office, Elections: Issues Related to State Voter Identification Laws, Sept. 2014

PolitiFact Texas, "Light a match to Greg Abbott's ridiculous claim about 'rampant voter fraud'," March 17, 2016

PolitiFact Wisconsin, "Which happens more: People struck by lightning or people committing voter fraud by impersonation?," April; 7, 2016

News 21, "Comprehensive Database of U.S. Voter Fraud Uncovers No Evidence That Photo ID Is Needed," Aug. 12, 2012

New York Times, "Questions and Answers on Voter Fraud," Aug. 5, 2016

Washington Post, "7 papers, 4 government inquiries, 2 news investigations and 1 court ruling proving voter fraud is mostly a myth," July 9, 2014

Washington Post, "Donald Trump is wrong. Rigging an election is almost impossible," Aug. 5, 2016

New York Times, "In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud," April 12, 2007

Harpers, "How to rig an election," November 2012

Wired, "America’s Electronic Voting Machines Are Scarily Easy Targets," Aug. 2, 2016

Interview with Richard Hasen, law professor at the University of California, Irvine, Aug. 10, 2016

Interview with Lorraine Minnite, political science professor at Rutgers University who wrote The Myth of Voter Fraud, Aug. 10, 2016

Interview with Mary Frances Barry, former chairwoman of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights and author of Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich, Aug. 10, 2016

Email interview with Bryan Whitener, spokesperson for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Aug. 11, 2016

Trump campaign chair misquotes Russian media in bogus claim about NATO base terrorist attack

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Our ruling

The event Manafort described did not happen. 

We rate Manafort’s claim Pants on Fire!

 

Manafort said there was a "NATO base in Turkey being under attack by terrorists" the week Trump made his comments about "Second Amendment people."

Russian media speculated that there was a second attempted coup at Incirlik air base in Turkey. That incident was exaggerated and occurred two weeks before Trump’s comments. Furthermore, though it houses NATO troops, Incirlik is not a NATO base. Neither Incirlik or NATO’s central headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, have been attacked by terrorists.

The event Manafort described did not happen. 

We rate Manafort’s claim Pants on Fire!

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Donald Trump’s comments about "Second Amendment people" doing something to stop Hillary Clinton continued to dog his campaign in interviews on the Sunday news shows.

But when CNN State of the Union host Jake Tapper brought up Trump’s seeming inability to stay on message, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort insisted it’s the press who can’t lay off of Trump.

"I mean, there's plenty of news to cover this week that I haven't seen covered," Manafort said Aug. 14. "You had the NATO base in Turkey being under attack by terrorists. You had a number of things that were appropriate to this campaign, were part of what Mr. Trump has been talking about. ... Instead, you took an aside that the Clinton narrative told you was something, Mr. Trump told you he didn't mean, and you played it out for two days."

We hadn’t seen the terrorist attack covered either and wondered if the media had neglected a major story in order to wax on about Trump’s comments.

Indeed, reputable news outlets didn’t cover this story — because it didn’t happen as Manafort said.

Manafort seems to be fumbling an errant story from Russian state media.

The weekend of July 30, RT.com and Sputnik reported 7,000 armed police with heavy vehicles had surrounded Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, where 2,500 U.S. troops are stationed and some 50 U.S. nuclear weapons are stored.

The two Kremlin-funded outlets suggested that the lockdown was in response to another coup attempt after a faction of the Turkish military failed to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

So already Manafort is wrong about two key points: The incident occurred two weeks before Trump’s Second Amendment remarks and did not involve terrorists.

What’s more, the Russian outlets’ reports were not exactly reliable.

There were anti-U.S. demonstrations outside of Incirlik the night before the maneuver, but Turkish authorities said these were small and largely peaceful. They also dismissed speculation of a second coup and explained that police were conducting safety inspections in preparation for a top U.S. military official’s visit, according to Stars and Stripes and Bloomberg.

"It does appear that RT and Sputnik exaggerated their stories. Perhaps Putin was attempting to inflame emotions between Turkey and America. Which is certainly believable," said the conservative blog Right Scoop.

Granted, Incirlik’s stockpile of nuclear weapons has been a cause for concern, especially after the July 15 coup. Media reports have also documented how the internal Turkish struggle caused some logistical headaches for U.S. troops stationed at Incirlik (including, for example, power outages).

But that’s a far cry from a terrorist attack that flew under the news radar.

Officials at the Pentagon and NATO told us there have been no terrorist attacks at Incirlik or NATO’s Allied Central Command (LANDCOM) in Izmir, Turkey. The NATO official also pointed out that Incirlik is actually not a NATO base, though U.S. and Spanish troops are stationed there.

Our ruling

Manafort said there was a "NATO base in Turkey being under attack by terrorists" the week Trump made his comments about "Second Amendment people."

Russian media speculated that there was a second attempted coup at Incirlik air base in Turkey. That incident was exaggerated and occurred two weeks before Trump’s comments. Furthermore, though it houses NATO troops, Incirlik is not a NATO base. Neither Incirlik or NATO’s central headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, have been attacked by terrorists.

The event Manafort described did not happen. 

We rate Manafort’s claim Pants on Fire!

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About this statement:

Published: Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 at 5:30 p.m.

Researched by: Linda Qiu

Edited by: Katie Sanders

Subjects: Foreign Policy, Terrorism

Sources:

Donald Trump off in saying Hillary Clinton wants illegal immigrants to take U.S. jobs

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Our rating

We rate the statement False. 

Trump says Clinton is "proposing to print instant work permits for millions of illegal immigrants to come in and take everybody's jobs, including low-income African-Americans."

Clinton would "staple" green cards to the diplomas of foreign students in the United States who complete master’s or doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, extending their stay so that they could work in the U.S., particularly in high-tech jobs, after graduation rather than returning home.

The green cards would be available to students who are already legally in the United States. And given their level of education and expertise, they would not be taking jobs of low-income Americans. Nor is the program aimed at millions of students.

We rate the statement False. 

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Donald Trump campaigned in West Bend, Wis., on Aug. 16, 2016. (Rick Wood photo)

On a campaign visit to West Bend, Wis., on Aug. 16, 2016, Donald Trump hit one of his favorite topics -- immigration -- and one of his favorite targets -- Hillary Clinton.

Trump tried to reach out to African-American voters with various attacks on Clinton, including this one:

"Now she's proposing to print instant work permits for millions of illegal immigrants to come in and take everybody's jobs, including low-income African-Americans."

Trump’s reference, however, is to advanced-degree international students who are legally in the United States -- and who are trained for top jobs in technology and science.

Trump’s evidence

To back Trump’s claim, his campaign pointed to this statement from the technology policy part of Clinton's campaign website:

Our immigration system is plagued by visa backlogs and other barriers that prevent high-skilled workers and entrepreneurs from coming to, staying in, and creating jobs in America. Far too often, we require talented persons from other countries who are trained in U.S. universities to return home, rather than stay in here and continue to contribute to our economy. As part of a comprehensive immigration solution, Hillary would "staple" a green card to STEM masters and PhDs from accredited institutions—enabling international students who complete degrees in these fields to move to green card status.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The Trump campaign also cited a Breitbart.com article published June 28, 2016, the day Clinton released the plan. The "staple" proposal would mean, the conservative site claimed, "university-trained foreign labor will drown the lifetime wages and career prospects of her college-indebted American supporters."

Even that criticism refers to jobs sought by college graduates, not jobs held by people with low incomes.

Other views

Paula Dwyer, an economics columnist for Bloomberg, explained in a column that the automatic green card Clinton proposes would grant foreign graduates permanent U.S. residence and work visas. Dwyer noted that such proposals have had bipartisan support while also raising some concerns -- though not the type Trump raised.

She wrote:

President Barack Obama suggested the stapled green card in his first term, as did Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential campaign. Silicon Valley executives have long advocated it to address what they claim is a shortage of qualified high-tech workers ….

Clinton says it makes no sense for the U.S. to invest in the education of some of the world's smartest people, only to send them back to India, China and other countries to start companies and compete against the U.S. But critics of the influx of foreign students to the U.S. warn that, without safeguards, the policy would turn U.S. colleges into green-card factories that crowd out American students, drive down salaries and discourage U.S.-born students from STEM careers.

So, there are some concerns about extending the stay of international students, who are not illegal immigrants but are studying in the U.S. on temporary visas.

Regardless, these master’s and doctoral graduates in science, technology, engineering and math are not threats to jobs held by low-income workers.

There’s also no evidence that Clinton’s proposal would apply to millions of people. The government’s latest quarterly report says 478,851 international students were studying in STEM fields at U.S. universities as of March 2016. And, of course, not all of them pursue advanced degrees or will want to remain in the U.S. after finishing their studies.    

Our rating

Trump says Clinton is "proposing to print instant work permits for millions of illegal immigrants to come in and take everybody's jobs, including low-income African-Americans."

Clinton would "staple" green cards to the diplomas of foreign students in the United States who complete master’s or doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, extending their stay so that they could work in the U.S., particularly in high-tech jobs, after graduation rather than returning home.

The green cards would be available to students who are already legally in the United States. And given their level of education and expertise, they would not be taking jobs of low-income Americans. Nor is the program aimed at millions of students.

We rate the statement False. 

 

About this statement:

Published: Thursday, August 18th, 2016 at 12:13 p.m.

Researched by: Tom Kertscher

Edited by: Katie Sanders

Subjects: Education, Immigration, Technology

Sources:

YouTube, Donald Trump speech (25:00), Aug. 16, 2016

Email, Donald Trump policy assistant Robert Gabriel, Aug. 17, 2016

Email, Hillary Clinton campaign spokeswoman Gillian Drummond, Aug. 17, 2016

HillaryClinton.com, "Hillary Clinton’s Initiative on Technology & Innovation," accessed Aug. 17, 2016

U.S. News & World Report, "Hillary Clinton Makes Tech Key to Her Economic Plan," June 28, 2016

Breitbart.com, "Hillary Clinton’s Vow To College Grads: I’ll Outsource Your Jobs To Foreign Graduates," June 28, 2016

Bloomberg, "Give Green Cards to Tech Graduates? Yes, But Take Care," July 7, 2016

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Student and Exchange Visitor Program quarterly report, March 2016

Trump surrogate repeats wrong talking point on Clinton Foundation giving

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Our ruling

We rate Castellanos’ claim Mostly False.

Castellanos said, "The Clinton Foundation gives less than 10 (percent in direct aid). In 2013, they raised 140 million bucks, gave $9 million to people in direct aid."

Castellanos is cherry-picking one line-item that doesn't include all of the foundation's spending on charity. While outside grantmaking made up about 10 percent of its expenses in 2013, the foundation spent about $68 million, or about 80 percent, on in-house charitable programs to help those in need.

We rate Castellanos’ claim Mostly False.

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

Surrogates for Donald Trump continue to make the argument that the Clinton Foundation is a "slush fund" for Bill and Hillary Clinton, and they keep repeating an inaccurate talking point.

While discussing on Meet the Press why Trump has yet to release his tax returns, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos turned the tables, saying that the nonprofit bearing Clinton’s name doesn’t do much except enrich her family.

"Because that idea that somehow the Clinton Foundation is this wonderful thing that helps people, most charities give 75 percent of their money in direct aid. The Clinton Foundation gives less than 10 (percent). In 2013, they raised 140 million bucks, gave 9 million to people in direct aid," Castellanos said.

We’ve heard various versions of this claim (from former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and RNC chairman Reince Priebus). It’s misleading.

Castellanos’ numbers don’t take into account the bulk of the foundation's work. The foundation does spend a lot of money on charity, not through grantmaking, but through its own programming. 

Tax returns show the Clinton Foundation raised just under $143 million and spent about $85 million, including $9 million in grants to other organizations. But that does not include all of the foundation's charitable work

"Grantmaking is not part of its mission, and that creates confusion — since many people imagine that foundations are engaged in giving away money," writes David Callahan, editor of Inside Philanthropy.

Despite its name, the Clinton Foundation is not actually a private foundation (like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or the Donald J. Trump Foundation) that solely gives to philanthropic causes. Rather, it’s a public charity, like United Way or the Salvation Army, that runs its own in-house projects and hires staff to carry out the work.

Clinton Foundation programs include providing women in Peru with the tools and equipment to launch their own businesses, installing solar panels and grids in Haiti after the earthquake, helping farmers in Tanzania boost yields and turn a profit, and using market mechanisms to reduce the cost of HIV/AIDS medicine.

All together, these programs cost $68 million in 2013 (page 10 of the foundation’s tax documents for that year), or about 80 percent of all of the foundation's expenses that year. In 2014, programs were 87 percent of the Clinton Foundation’s expenses, according to Charity Navigator, giving it a score of 10 out of 10 on that metric.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the foundation’s 2013 expenses:

[img]https://infogr.am/c3e08b06-a8d...96-833d-560236bbbd29[/img]

 

In sum, Castellanos’ claim is "totally wrong," Callahan of Inside Philanthropy told PolitiFact. "The vast majority of the money raised goes to support program work in the field, as anyone can tell from looking at the Clinton Foundation’s annual finances."

Castellanos did not respond to requests for comment.

Our ruling

Castellanos said, "The Clinton Foundation gives less than 10 (percent in direct aid). In 2013, they raised 140 million bucks, gave $9 million to people in direct aid."

Castellanos is cherry-picking one line-item that doesn't include all of the foundation's spending on charity. While outside grantmaking made up about 10 percent of its expenses in 2013, the foundation spent about $68 million, or about 80 percent, on in-house charitable programs to help those in need.

We rate Castellanos’ claim Mostly False.

 

About this statement:

Published: Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 at 5:08 p.m.

Researched by: Louis Jacobson, Linda Qiu, Aaron Sharockman

Edited by: Angie Drobnic Holan

Subjects: Candidate Biography

Sources:

NBC, Meet the Press, Sept. 4, 2016

FactCheck.Org, "Where Does Clinton Foundation Money Go?," June 19, 2015

PolitiFact, "Reince Priebus' False claim that 80% of Clinton Foundation costs are overhead," Aug. 25, 2016

PolitiFact, "Rush Limbaugh says Clinton Foundation spends just 15 percent on charity, 85 percent on overhead," April 29, 2015

Inside Philanthropy, "What the Heck Does the Clinton Foundation Actually DO?" June 23, 2016

PolitiFact, "Clinton: Clinton Foundation helped 9 million with lower-cost AIDS drugs," June 15, 2016

PolitiFact, "In Tanzania, Clinton Foundation trades on maize and beans, not name," Sept 6, 2016

Clinton Foundation, Form 990, 2013

Charity Navigator, "The Clinton Foundation," accessed Sept. 6, 2016

Email interview with Josh Schwerin, spokesman for Hillary Clinton, Sept. 6, 2016

Email interview with Brian Cookstra, spokesman for the Clinton Foundation, Sept. 6, 2016

Email interview with David Callahan, editor of Inside Philanthropy, Sept. 6, 2016

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