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18 inaccurate claims from Trump’s latest rally

What Was Said

"But I will tell you, the secretary-general, Stoltenberg, is Trump's biggest fan. He says, 'Those Nato nations are going like this: less money, less money. Why not? And when you started talking, it went like a rocket ship.'"

- President Donald Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in Great Falls, Montana, on Thursday.

The Facts

This is exaggerated.

It is unclear what Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of Nato, has said to Mr Trump. But the notion that Mr Trump single-handedly and drastically reversed military spending by members is inaccurate.

As The New York Times has previously explained, each of Nato's 29 members has pledged to spend at least 2 per cent of its gross domestic product on its own defence each year. Just four countries - the United States, Britain, Greece and Estonia - met that goal in 2017, according to Nato. (Poland reached 1.99 per cent.)

Average spending by members other than the United States has generally been declining since the end of the Cold War, dipping to 1.4 percent of GDP in 2014 and 2015 before increasing to 1.42 percent in 2016 and 1.45 percent in 2017.

So Nato members began to spend more on their militaries before Mr Trump took office. It is possible that Mr Trump's dedication to the issue has spurred Nato members to continue to do so, but they are also motivated by Russia's aggressive actions, experts have previously told The Times.

What Was Said

"They make the sources up. They don't exist in many cases. Any time you say - you know, I saw one of them said '15 anonymous sources' - I don't have 15 people in the White - I mean, forget it."

The Facts

False.

Inflatable depicting Donald Trump as an angry baby to be flown over London during US president's visit
As he accused news outlets of quoting non-existent sources, Mr Trump cut himself off before he could finish his incorrect claim that the White House employs fewer than 15 people.

The "White House" can broadly refer to the Executive Office of the President, which includes the Office of Management and Budget, the National Security Council, the Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of the US Trade Representative, among other domestic policy arms and support staff. Mr Trump's budget for the 2019 fiscal year estimated that more than 1,800 full-time employees work for these offices.

The term can also refer specifically to the White House Office, which is one of the oldest sub-agencies of the executive office and where many of the president's personal aides work. It alone employs 374 people, according to its latest report to Congress on salaries, which was dated 29 June.

What Was Said

"Since the election, we have lifted 3 million people off of food stamps."

The Facts

This requires context.

Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program did decline to 40.1 million people in March 2018 from 43.2 million in November 2016, according to the most recent data from the Agriculture Department.

Mr Trump, of course, was not yet president in November 2016. From February 2017, his first full month in office, to this March, nearly 2.2 million fewer people participated in SNAP.

It is also worth noting that participation has been declining in recent years as the economy improves from the financial recession. For example, in the year before Mr Trump became president, SNAP enrolment declined by more than 2.4 million from December 2015 to January 2017.

Other Claims

Mr Trump also repeated more than a dozen false or misleading claims that The Times has previously debunked:

- He falsely claimed that Democrats "want open borders" (most have voted to improve border security).

- He exaggerated the United States' trade deficit with the European Union as $151bn (it is $101bn).

- He falsely said the United States was "exporting energy for the first time" (it has been doing so for decades).

- He misleadingly accused President Barack Obama of paying Iran $1.8 billion in cash to release hostages (the money was a payment related to a decades-long dispute).

- He misleadingly accused President Bill Clinton of giving "billions and billions" to North Korea and getting "nothing" (the amount, in energy aid, was far less, and the 1994 nuclear agreement did produce some results).

- He falsely claimed to be the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin "since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952" (Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon both won Wisconsin).

- He exaggerated the number of MS-13 members who have been deported as being in the "thousands" (this is not possible).

- He hyperbolically said "getting military funding from these Democrats is almost impossible" (most Democrats voted for the latest military spending bill).

- He misleadingly claimed "we are already building the wall" (construction on the wall has not begun).

- He falsely said wages were rising "for the first time in 18 years" (they have been rising for years).

- He falsely claimed that the tax cuts he signed into law in December were "the biggest in American history" (they rank 12th).

- He claimed to have "saved family farms" by raising the threshold for the estate tax (the tax previously affected around 80 family farms and small businesses).

- He falsely claimed "millions" are already signing up for association health care plans (they will not be available until at least Sept. 1).

- He said the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines will produce 48,000 jobs (all but 75 will be temporary jobs).

- He exaggerated the United States' trade deficit with China as $507 billion (it is $336 billion).

Sources: NATO, the White House, the president's budget for FY2019, the Agriculture Department, The New York Times

The New York Times

News Corp Australia


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