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8 Fact Checks On The Trump Administration This Week

President Trump stands during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on Friday.
Mario Tama
Getty Images
President Trump stands during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on Friday.

The Trump administration continued to play loose with facts in week three.

President Trump took aim at one of his favorite targets — the media — accusing them of not reporting terrorist attacks. The very list of attacks the White House released hours later contradicted those claims.

Trump again cited incorrect statistics on the country's murder rate, though a day later he did use the right numbers.

Press secretary Sean Spicer had his own "Bowling Green massacre" moment when he referred multiple times to a terrorist attack in Atlanta that never happened.

And at the end of the week, President Trump again brought up false claims that there were illegal voters in the November election.

But the number of false claims we're finding have decreased this week. We've highlighted eight issues or statements below. And throughout the week you can find us annotating the president's tweets for more context, too:

"It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that." Trump speaking on Monday to U.S. service members at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., claiming that the media weren't covering terrorist attacks and may have ulterior motives for doing so

Later Monday night the White House put out a (typo-ridden) list of 78 attacks to back up that surprising allegation from the president. But instead their list included many high-profile terrorist attacks that had, in fact, drawn wall-to-wall media coverage, such as the June 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting and recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and in Paris and Nice, France.

As Politifact noted, "the media reported on every one of the incidents in some fashion, except an alleged October 2015 nondeadly attack in Egypt that we could not independently verify. Whether the media covered the events enough is a matter of opinion, but it would be wrong to suggest the events weren't covered at all."

In an interview which aired Monday with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, Trump claims only 109 people were affected by travel ban

The chaos that the hastily-implemented executive order unleashed two weeks ago was way more far-reaching than that. Politifact found that, "On top of 60,000 valid visas affected by the order, there could be an additional 64,000 admitted refugees barred entry to the United States. That's nearly 1,140 times as many people as Trump claimed."

Trump in a Tuesday meeting with U.S. chiefs of police and sheriffs: "I'd say that in a speech and everybody was surprised because the press doesn't like to tell it like it is. It wasn't to their advantage to say that. But the murder rate is the highest it's been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years."

Trump has made similar incorrect claims about the murder rate many times and has been fact checked on it many times. As NPR's Camila Domonoske reported this week: "According to the FBI, the murder rate for 2015, the last year for which data are available, was 4.9 per 100,000 people. Every year between 1965 and 2010, the FBI reported a higher rate than that."

On Wednesday, Trump correctly cited murder statistics the day after making the mistake, meriting a CNN headline.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer cites a non-existent Atlanta terrorist attack

These claims in fact came last week but gained attention this week. CNN broke down how three times, Spicer talked about a terror attack in Atlanta. The Atlanta police department told CNN that they had "no record of an Islamic attack in the City of Atlanta," and that the last terror attack had been the 1996 Olympic bombing which was done by a U.S. citizen protesting abortion rights. This week, the White House confirmed that Spicer had meant to refer to the recent night club shooting in Orlando.

Trump attacks CNN's Chris Cuomo on Twitter

CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Thursday morning about Blumenthal's reports that Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch had called Trump's attacks on the judiciary "demoralizing."

Trump then tweeted that Cuomo had not asked Blumenthal about a years-old controversy, in which Blumenthal had falsely stated that he served in Vietnam. Cuomo responded by showing that he had, in fact, asked Blumenthal about his past falsehoods.

Yemen raid — success or failure?

The first military raid that Trump ordered as president has been the subject of much controversy after it resulted in the death of nearly two-dozen civilians and U.S. Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. Spicer defended it in his Tuesday briefing, calling it "highly successful" and said that "anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and [does] a disservice to the life of Chief Owens." He was referring to Arizona Sen. John McCain, who had characterized the raid a failure. Trump swiped back at McCain, a former Vietnam POW on Twitter.

As NPR's Domenico Montanaro, Tom Bowman and Danielle Kurtzleben reported, "The binary choice of success or failure in this instance is a false one. But the raid clearly did not go as planned — and the public posture of the White House does not indicate it sees lessons to be learned for the future."

Also, Trump has repeatedly called into question the success of the Iraq War where thousands of U.S. soldiers died.

Ivanka Trump and Nordstrom

Trump called out the retailer on Twitter this week after they decided to stop selling his daughter's fashion line, and later Spicer characterized the decision as a backlash against the president's policies.

However, Nordstrom said they made the decision over a month ago "based on performance." They told NBC News in a statement that, "Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn't make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now." The Washington Post's Fact Checker gave Trump's claim four pinocchios.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway then took the defense of Ivanka Trump a step further, actively hawking her goods on a Fox News appearance. NPR's Jim Zarroli has more on the conflict of interest quagmire those statements opened for the government employee.

Trump brings up voting fraud allegations — again

It had been a while since Trump brought up his (without-any-evidence) allegations of widespread voter fraud, and the investigation he promised during his first week in office has never materialized.

But Politico reported that, Thursday, in a meeting with 10 senators about his Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump again trotted out the wild accusations. According to the site, Trump claimed that both he and former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is helping to shepherd Gorsuch on Capitol Hill, would have won if not for "thousands" of voters "brought in on buses" from neighboring Massachusetts to vote "illegally" in the Granite State. Trump lost New Hampshire and Ayotte lost her bid for re-election.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told the Boston Globe that there was no proof of busses of illegal voters at polling places, "suggesting that an unusually large number of voters would have drawn attention."

Trump also went on to claim that if Ayotte had not distanced herself from Trump during the campaign she would have won. Ayotte initially said she wouldn't endorse Trump but would vote for him, but after an explosive 10-year-old video of Trump making vulgar remarks surfaced, Ayotte said she would write in Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence instead.

Ayotte actually ran far ahead of Trump in New Hampshire, losing to Democrat Maggie Hassan by just 743 votes. However, Trump lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 2,736 votes.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politicsand is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.
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