AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s half-truths on court case, economy
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump gloated about a court case that didn’t offer him the vindication he implied in his triumphant tweet. That capped a week of distortions, half-truths and swerves in his declarations on the economy, North Korea and other issues of the time.
A week in review:
TRUMP: “Just won lawsuit filed by the DNC and a bunch of Democrat crazies trying to claim the Trump Campaign (and others), colluded with Russia. They haven’t figured out that this was an excuse for them losing the election!” – tweet Friday.
THE FACTS: Trump is wrong in saying the Democratic National Committee filed the lawsuit. If he’s suggesting that the outcome of the case exonerates his campaign on allegations that Trump associates colluded with Russia, that’s off-base, too.
In the suit, two Democratic donors and a former chief of staff of the DNC’s finance office alleged that the Trump campaign and Trump associate Roger Stone conspired with Russian agents and WikiLeaks to publish hacked Democratic emails.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle dismissed the suit, saying it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction and was faulty for other technical reasons. But she did not weigh in on the merits of the complaint.
In fact, she wrote that “it bears emphasizing that this Court’s ruling is not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.”
TRUMP: “Just out that the Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians - including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?” – tweet Tuesday.
THE FACTS: Trump’s claim, which he repeated from a Fox News report, is baseless. The report said Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour, a hardline member of Iran’s parliament, had made the allegation in an interview with a local newspaper. He is a vocal critic of the nuclear agreement.
The agreement was signed in July 2015 to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability in exchange for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. Nothing in the agreement addresses the naturalization or immigration of Iranians.
Rather than increase, the number of Iranians naturalized in the U.S. declined after the deal was signed, from 10,344 in 2015 to 9,507 in 2016, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2014, the number of Iranians who were made citizens was 9,620. There are about a million Iranians living in the U.S., many with green cards, representing a wide pool of residents who can eventually become citizens.
Trump backed out of the Iran nuclear accord in May, describing it as a flawed deal.
TRUMP: “The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help. If anything, they are driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!” – tweet Wednesday.
TRUMP: – “OPEC is manipulating” the oil market. – Fox News interview July 1.
THE FACTS: Trump is glossing over the broader reality behind increased prices. Oil prices were already rising on growing demand and expectations that a sharp pullback in new investment by oil companies would reduce the oil supply.
OPEC is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Members of the cartel, led by Saudi Arabia, and other big producers including Russia have contributed to reversing the plunge in crude oil prices that started in 2014. They have shown discipline in limiting production since the start of last year. Last month, members of OPEC agreed to pump an additional 1 million barrels of crude daily, a move that should help contain global energy prices.
But there are other significant factors affecting oil output.
Some estimates put the reduction in investment by major oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP at more than $1 trillion – akin to eliminating the fourth-largest oil producer in the world.
In addition, output from Venezuela, a major oil exporter to the U.S., has plunged as the South American country goes through a political and economic crisis, while fighting in Libya over control of that country’s oil infrastructure has disrupted oil supplies.
Also impacting gas prices is Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran, OPEC’s third-biggest producer. Iran had boosted production after the U.S. lifted sanctions in 2016. Trump has urged European leaders to unite behind him on sanctions even as the countries seek to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal without U.S. cooperation. Analysts expect output to fall when Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement takes full effect later this year.
TRUMP: “Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!” – tweet Tuesday.
TRUMP: “We signed a wonderful paper saying they’re going to denuclearize their whole thing. It’s all going to happen …Eight months, no nuclear testing, no missiles, no anything.” – remarks at rally Thursday in Great Falls, Montana.
THE FACTS: Trump’s view that his administration’s plan to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons is “going well” isn’t shared by nonproliferation experts.
While North Korea has halted nuclear and missile tests, a full dismantling of weapons is a different matter. North Korea leader Kim Jong Un committed to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula during his June 12 summit with Trump in Singapore, but experts say there is no proof that a freeze in testing means the North will take concrete steps to give up such weapons.
Most North Korea experts say the U.S. has an unrealistic approach to the North’s denuclearization.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States wants North Korea to take “major” nuclear disarmament steps within the next two years – before the end of Trump’s first term in January 2021. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, recently publicized a more ambitious one-year plan.
Both of those timelines are viewed as bullish by nonproliferation experts considering the scale of the North’s weapons program and its history of evasion and reluctance to allow verification of disarmament agreements. They say any solid deal will require Kim to be completely transparent about his program – at a time when intelligence reports suggest he will try to deceive the United States about the extent of his covert weapons or facilities.
TRUMP: “We’ve become a nation that is exporting energy for the first time.” – Montana rally.
THE FACTS: That’s not true. The U.S. has exported many forms of energy for decades, while importing even more. And it’s not true that the U.S. has become a net exporter of energy. The U.S. Energy Information Agency projects that the U.S. will start exporting more energy than it imports in the next decade, primarily because of a boom in oil and gas production that began before Trump’s presidency. The Trump White House has predicted that could happen sooner, by 2020. But Trump is wrong to say the U.S. has “become” that nation.
TRUMP: “I won Montana by so many points I don’t have to come here. You know a lot of people from states where we have these crazy big leads, we had 42 and 44 – we won by 44 points over a Democrat. Over a Democrat. We won – won by 44 points over a Democrat.” – Montana rally.
THE FACTS: He won two states by more than 40 points, Wyoming (46 points) and West Virginia (42). He won Montana by 21 points.
TRUMP: “It’s time to retire liberal Democrat Jon Tester … A vote for Jon Tester is a vote for Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the new leader of the Democrat Party, Maxine Waters.” – remarks Thursday at Great Falls rally.
THE FACTS: Trump suggests that Tester votes in full lockstep with Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, but the senator worked closely with Republicans on two pieces of veterans legislation cited by Trump as major accomplishments of his administration.
One was a compromise bill Tester co-sponsored with Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and Marco Rubio to make firing employees easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs; his support as the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee smoothed the way for congressional passage despite the objections of federal unions and some House Democrats such as Pelosi. Tester also helped craft a bill to give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the VA system, an effort aimed at fulfilling Trump’s campaign pledge to reduce wait times and improve care by steering patients to the private sector. Pelosi and several Democrats voted against that bill as posing a risk to greater “privatization” at the VA.
On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited in part Tester’s support for VA Secretary nominee Robert Wilkie as reason for the closely divided Senate to act quickly in confirming him to the position.
TRUMP: “Congress must pass smart, fast and reasonable Immigration Laws now. Law Enforcement at the Border is doing a great job, but the laws they are forced to work with are insane…Congress - FIX OUR INSANE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW!” – tweets Thursday.
THE FACTS: Trump is sending more conflicting messages regarding immigration legislation that would end family separations, now saying the Republican-led Congress should act immediately.
Two weeks ago, he had urged Republicans to wait on acting on a bill, tweeting that they should “stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November.”
Trump later tweeted that House Republicans should approve the “STRONG BUT FAIR” bill even though Democrats wouldn’t allow it to pass the Senate, before changing his tune again a week ago, saying he “never pushed” Republicans in the House to vote for an immigration bill.
His contradictory statements come in the aftermath of highly publicized images and cries from young immigrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border. Trump has sought to blame Democrats for failure to pass legislation.
– Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.
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