As Donald Trump’s State of the Union address reminded us, the Snowflake-in-Chief is a master of misinformation, exaggeration, and straight out lies. To celebrate, we thought we’d look back at the Top Ten claims that would make any other POTUS blush, ranging from the malicious to the ridiculous.
10. Economic boom — 21 January 2020
President Trump, keen for a distraction from his impeachment trial underway back home, boasted to the gathered global elite in Davos: “When I spoke at this forum two years ago, I told you that we had launched the great American comeback. Today, I’m proud to declare that the United States is in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
There has been an increase in GDP growth under Trump, though this is far from the greatest the world has ever seen. It isn’t even the United States’ best, and falls short of his own campaign goal of four per cent. The highest achieved under the current administration is 3.5 per cent, while the most recent figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show growth for the third quarter of 2019 at 2.1 per cent. Between 1947 and 1973, growth averaged over four per cent, and between 1997 and 2000 it was closer to 4.5 per cent.
The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database ranks the United States at 103rd in terms of real GDP growth rate in its most recent data set for the 2018 calendar year.
9. Guns minimise mass shootings — 28 February 2018
In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, in which 17 people were killed, Trump cast his mind back to the 2016 mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“You take Pulse nightclub,” he said during a televised meeting with members of Congress. “If you had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it wouldn’t have happened, or certainly to the extent that it did.”
In fact, a uniformed and armed off-duty police officer, with 15 years experience with the Orlando Police Department, was working security that night. He exchanged gunfire with the perpetrator. Despite the bravery of Officer Adam Gruler, and the quick response of his colleagues, 49 people were killed.
8. Trump’s accomplished administration — 26 September 2018
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Trump had the world’s representatives laughing — but at him, not with him.
“Today I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we’ve made,” he said. “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
For even the most successful administration, such a brag less than halfway through its first term would be a bit much. There is no objective measure for what qualifies as an “accomplishment”, but there may be other presidents who deserve higher billing.
Abraham Lincoln, for example, lead the Union to victory over the Confederates in the Civil War, issued the Emancipation Proclamation and eventually ended slavery. Franklin Roosevelt won four presidential elections, steered the United States out of the Great Depression and through World War Two. He also implemented the New Deal, and guided his country to a position of world leadership.
George Washington was the founding president, elected unanimously by the college. Regarded as the “Father of his Country,” he established the Supreme Court and Navy, and entered a most favoured nations treaty with Britain. Then there’s Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, Woodrow Wilson, JFK . . .
7. Muslims celebrated 9/11 attacks — 21 November 2015
Speaking at a rally just over a week after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris and its surrounds left 131 people dead, Trump told the crowd: “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
He repeated his comments during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week”: “I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down, as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”
As the Washington Post pointed out at the time, the exchange demonstrates the difficulty of fact-checking Trump. The police said it didn’t happen, yet he insisted he saw it. Despite extensive examinations of news reports, no visual evidence has ever been found to support the claim. Curiously, there are also no examples of Trump expressing this opinion at the time of the attacks or at any stage before the rally.
6. Post-natal executions — 27 April 2019
The President has recognised that an anti-abortion stance plays well with his voting base. Addressing a rally in Green Bay, he told the crowd that with late-term abortion “the mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby”.
Late-term abortions are rare and generally only occur due to a threat to the mother’s life or if the child has fatal abnormalities. Where a baby is born, and dies due to severe abnormalities, parents and doctors make a decision whether to resuscitate or not. This is not the execution of a healthy, or even viable child.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1.4 per cent of abortions occur after 21 weeks (out of a standard 40-week pregnancy). According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, less than one per cent of abortions occur in the third trimester and almost exclusively occur in the most extreme situations.
“Allowing to die does happen,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University Langone Medical Center, but “very rarely — say, a baby born with no lungs at 20 weeks”.
5. More legislation than anybody — 27 December 2017
A year into his presidency, Trump told a West Palm Beach crowd: “You know, one of the things that people don’t understand — we have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.”
Not quite. According to govtracks.us, the President actually passed the least amount of legislation in the first year of anyone elected to the office since World War II. Trump signed off on 96 laws in the period, while Truman racked up 126 in his first 100 days alone. John F Kennedy takes the record at the one-year mark with 684 signed bills.
4. Obama’s family separation policy — 26 May 2018
Trump’s vitriol should have been directed at his own administration when he tweeted: “Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the US.”
He was still peddling this lie a year later. In an interview on Telemundo in June, he claimed: “When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that put them together.”
There was no specific law under the Democratic administration of Barack Obama to separate children from their parents. It did occur occasionally when the parents were charged with a crime and placed in custody, due to a policy of not imprisoning children. However, illegal immigrants were rarely prosecuted and instead held in family detention centres under Obama, while under Trump the Homeland Security Department now refers all illegal border crossings for prosecution.
3. Trump won the popular vote — 28 November 2016
Following his against-the-odds win in the 2016 presidential election, Trump tweeted: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
The Electoral College result was a resounding win, but not a landslide. In fact, the margin of victory ranked just 46th out of 58 presidential elections. Trump had 56.9 per cent of the college. Washington had 100 per cent twice, Ronald Reagan picked up 97.6 per cent, and even fellow impeachment-target Richard Nixon garnered 96.65 per cent of votes.
In terms of the popular vote, by the official results the President lost by just under three million to Hillary Clinton, the largest margin of any presidential election ever. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, certainly not to the extent of explaining such a deficit. Trump even established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, but it was unable to confirm any irregularities and was disbanded before it could hand down such a finding.
2. Trump’s tax cuts don’t help him personally — 27 September 2017
The most significant legislative success of the current administration was the passing of US$1.5 trillion in tax cuts, which among other things lowered company tax rates from 35 per cent to 21 per cent, and reducing the alternative minimum tax, which is designed to guarantee that high-income earners with significant deductions still pay a minimum amount of tax.
Trump, the only modern president not to have released his tax returns, told reporters that his plan was for the working people and not people like him. “No, I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”
The President expanded in a speech in St Charles on November 29: “This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me. Believe me, this is not good for me.”
Without access to Trump’s tax returns it is impossible to know exactly how the tax cuts would affect him — maybe he’s about to declare bankruptcy, as he has six times in his business dealings. Writing the day after his original claim, a New York Times analysis found: “President Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion, including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year.”
1. Most bigly inauguration crowd ever — 26 January 2017
Our final false claim by Trump is probably the most comical, though maybe he was just trying to help his press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, save face. Spicer told reporters after the inauguration that Trump drew “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe”.
After adviser Kellyanne Conway had made her famous “alternate facts,” remark, Trump came onboard with the spurious claim, telling ABC News: “When I looked at the numbers that have come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches.”
The photographic evidence is emphatic. Obama eight years earlier had an estimated crowd around 1.8 million. Even Trump only bragged of 1.5 million. It was probably closer to 250,000. The good news: the Washington-area transit authority reported no delays on the Metro, with resources more than meeting demand.
The President also claimed at CIA headquarters the day following the inauguration that God had prevented rain, when in fact it rained.
Even literally, the truth is raining on Trump’s parade.