The 2024 presidential campaign for former President Donald Trump got off to the same inaccurate start as his 2021 bid for the office.
Trump’s Tuesday announcement speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate, like many of his other speeches as president, was full of exaggerations about a range of subjects, including his record in office, his Democratic rivals, the economy, the environment, and foreign policy.
Here is a list of 20 of the things he said that were untrue or misleading. This isn’t an exhaustive list.
Trump asserted on Tuesday night that after its military pullout from Afghanistan in 2021, the US left behind $85 billion in military hardware.
Perhaps the most disgraceful event in our nation’s history, according to Trump, was when we lost lives, left Americans behind, and gave up $85 billion worth of the best military hardware available.
Facts First: Trump’s figure is false. While a significant quantity of military equipment that had been provided by the US to Afghan government forces was indeed abandoned to the Taliban upon the US withdrawal, the Defense Department has estimated that this equipment had been worth about $7.1 billion — a chunk of about $18.6 billion worth of equipment provided to Afghan forces between 2005 and 2021. And some of the equipment left behind was rendered inoperable before US forces withdrew.
Trump’s assertion that $85 billion worth of equipment was abandoned has no support. The total amount of money Congress has appropriated during the war to a fund supporting the Afghan security forces was rounded up to $83 billion, as other fact-checkers have previously noted. This funding was only partially used for equipment.
Reserve of Strategic Petroleum
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, according to Trump, was “filled up” by his administration, but it has since been “virtually drained” by the Biden administration.
Facts First: Both parts of Trump’s claim are false. He didn’t fill up the reserve, and the reserve is not “virtually drained.”
The reserve actually contained fewer barrels of crude when Trump left office in early 2021 than when he took office in 2017, despite his repeated boasts that he had filled it up. Although Democrats in Congress blocked the funding necessary to carry out Trump’s 2020 directive to purchase tens of millions more barrels and fill the reserve to its maximum capacity, it wasn’t filled entirely because of him. The law requires some mandatory sales from the reserve for budgetary reasons.
As President Joe Biden released a significant portion of the US reserve to help keep oil prices down following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as CNN’s Matt Egan and Phil Mattingly reported in mid-October, the US reserve remains the largest in the world even though it was at a 38-year low. As of the week ending November 4, the reserve contained more than 396 million barrels of crude oil.
Chinese import taxes
In addition, Trump bragged about his tariffs on China, saying that “until I came along, no president has ever sought or obtained $1 for our country from China.”
Facts First: As we have written repeatedly, it’s not true that no president before Trump had generated any revenue through tariffs on goods from China. In reality, the US has had tariffs on China for more than two centuries, and FactCheck.org reported in 2019 that the US generated an “average of $12.3 billion in custom duties a year from 2007 to 2016, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission DataWeb.”
The actual tariff payments are made by American importers, not Chinese exporters, and during Trump’s administration, study after study revealed that Americans were footing the bill for the tariffs.
Sea level rise
Trump stated nameless people are obsessed with environmental issues that “may harm us in 300 years” The seas will increase 1/8 inch in 200 to 300 years, he said. But don’t worry about nuclear weapons that may destroy entire countries.”
Facts First: Trump’s claims are false – even if you ignore the absurd contention that people aren’t paying attention to nuclear threats because they’re focused on the environment. Sea levels are expected to rise much faster than Trump said. The US government’s National Ocean Service said on its website that “sea level along the U.S. coastline is projected to rise, on average, 10 – 12 inches (0.25 – 0.30 meters) in the next 30 years (2020 – 2050), which will be as much as the rise measured over the last 100 years (1920 – 2020).”
Trump didn’t mention “climate change,” but he implied that people think it won’t affect us for 300 years. It affects the US today. Climate change is worsening existing dangers and creating new security difficulties for U.S. interests, the Department of Defense reported in 2021.
Fact check: 20 false and misleading claims Trump made in his announcement speech: https://t.co/CmdpsHTzCx Don't bother. Just say "MORE TRUMP LIES". The list of true statements would be shorter than his lies.
— Stand4Truth (@Liberty4Ever1) November 16, 2022
Drug use and punishment in China
Trump said Xi Jinping assured him China has no “drug problem” because of how it treats drug traffickers. Trump repeated the accusation, stating, “If you’ve discovered distributing narcotics in China, you’re executed immediately.” They have no drug problems.
Facts First: Trump’s claim is not true, just as it was when he made similar claims as president. Joe Amon, director of global health at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, said that “yes, China has a drug problem” and that “China, like the US, has a large number of people who use (a wide range of) drugs.” The Chinese government has itself reported that “there were 1.49 million registered drug users nationwide” as of the end of 2021; in the past, officials in China have acknowledged that the number of registered drug users is a significant undercount of actual drug use there.
While Trump blames heavy punishments for China’s drug success, the Chinese government also touts rehabilitation, education, and anti-poverty programmes.
Trump rehashed a false assertion regarding Obama’s handling of presidential documents while complaining about being investigated for taking documents to his Florida home and resort.
“Obama took a lot of things with him,” Trump said.
Facts First: This is false – as the National Archives and Records Administration pointed out in August when Trump previously made this claim. Though Trump claimed that Obama had taken millions of records to Chicago, NARA explained in a public statement that it had itself taken these records to a NARA-managed facility in the Chicago area – which is near where Obama’s presidential library will be located. It said that, as per federal law, “former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration.”
NARA has also contradicted Trump’s assertions that prior presidents took documents to their home states; in those cases, NARA transported the documents, not the former presidents. NARA usually sets up temporary facilities near where permanent libraries will be.
As he had done several times throughout Biden’s presidency, Trump misrepresented the cost of gas. He declared: “Gasoline used to cost $1.87 per gallon, but it’s now sitting at $5, $6, $7, and even $8, and it’s going to get terrible.”
Facts First: This is so misleading that we’re classifying it as inaccurate. While the price of a gallon of regular gas did briefly fall to $1.87 (and lower) during the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the national average for regular gas on Trump’s last day in office, January 20, 2021, was much higher than that – $2.393 per gallon, according to data provided to CNN by the American Automobile Association. And while there are some remote gas stations where prices are always much higher than the national average, the national average Tuesday is $3.759, per AAA data, not $5, $6, $7 or $8. California, the state with the highest prices, as usual, has an average of $5.423.
Deportations under Obama
Tuesday night, Trump claimed that his administration had persuaded nations like Guatemala and Honduras to return their gang members who had entered the United States, in contrast to Obama’s administration.
“MS-13 is the worst gang. Furthermore, they were powerless to eliminate them under the Barack Hussein Obama presidency. Since their home countries wouldn’t accept them,” Trump stated from Mar-a-Lago.
Facts First: It’s not true that, as a rule, Guatemala and Honduras wouldn’t take back their citizens during Obama’s administration, though there were some individual exceptions.
Neither Guatemala nor Honduras were on the list of nations that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) considered “recalcitrant,” or uncooperative, in accepting the return of their nationals in 2016, just before Trump was elected president.
In terms of the citizenship of people deported from the US in 2016, Obama’s final full fiscal year in office, ICE reported that Guatemala and Honduras came in second and third place, respectively, to Mexico. Here is a link to a longer fact check from 2019.
Missile landing in Poland
A missile that was “sent in probably by Russia,” according to Trump, crashed 50 kilometres into Poland on Tuesday. From Mar-a-Lago, Trump remarked, “People are going crazy and they’re not happy.”
Facts First: This claim is false. While Poland said a Russian-made missile did land in their territory Tuesday, killing two Polish citizens, the explosion happened about four miles west of the Ukrainian border.
Furthermore, it is still unknown where the missile was launched and why it landed in Poland.
Fascinated as to what happens if (when?) Trump loses the GOP primaries and he declares it to have been rigged in some way: https://t.co/8ifL7NOE8A
— Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) November 16, 2022
Finishing the border wall
Trump lied about his key border wall policy.
Now we’ll add to the wall. We erected the wall, then said let’s do more, and we did. And more. Then an election came up. They had three more weeks to finish the wall, which would’ve been amazing, but they said no, he said.
Trump didn’t “finish” the border wall.
According to a US Customs and Border Protection report released two days after Trump left office, 458 miles of the wall were constructed under Trump, but 280 more miles were not. The study, sent to CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez, said 74 miles of barriers were “in the pre-construction phase and have not yet been awarded” and 206 miles were “now under contract, in place of antiquated and old designs and in regions where no barriers previously existed.”
Democratic leaders and the National Guard
Trump said Democratic governors and mayors refused to seek “assistance” even during a “complete breakdown of law and order” so “we brought in the National Guard in Minneapolis and other locations.”
Facts First: This is a false claim Trump liked to make during his presidency. It’s not true that Trump sent in the National Guard to Minneapolis and that Democratic leaders there refused to ask; it was Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, not Trump, was the one who deployed the Minnesota National Guard amid unrest in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Walz, who served in the Army National Guard for more than two decades, first activated the Guard more than seven hours before Trump publicly threatened to deploy the Guard himself.
When Trump repeated this bogus allegation in 2020, Walz’s office told CNN that he activated the Guard at the request of Democrats in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
On the scenography of candidate Trump's presidential announcement (and what Melania wore): https://t.co/Nsoh93i7jQ
— Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) November 16, 2022
According to Trump, inflation is at its greatest point in more than 50 years as of this moment.
First the facts: This is untrue; Trump inflated a fact that would have benefited him even if he had delivered it correctly. If you exclude earlier months this year when it was higher, the inflation rate in October was 7.7%, which is the highest since 1982. By excluding three other months from the Biden administration, it is the highest in 40 years, not “over 50 years,” as others have claimed.
If Trump did not have a years-long habit of inflating data to suit his needs, we would be willing to overlook this.
Donald Trump’s campaign for president in 2024 got off to a bad start, just like his campaign for president in 2021 did.
Trump’s Tuesday announcement speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate, like many of his other speeches as president, was full of exaggerations about many things, including his record as president, his Democratic opponents, the economy, the environment, and foreign policy.
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