Politics

Fact check: Trump delivers blizzard of false claims in Pennsylvania speech attacking Biden

Speaking in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, just outside Biden’s home town of Scranton, Trump delivered a wild monologue that involved unscripted musings about sharks, boxing, dishwashers and the maintenance of forests.
It also involved a blizzard of false claims.
We’re still going through the transcript, but here are the ones we can tell you about so far:
The fairness of the election
Trump said of Democrats: “The only way they’re gonna win is by a rigged election. I really believe that. I saw the crowd outside.”
Facts First: This is nonsense. Trump is trailing in every major national poll and in many polls of swing states. The existence of Trump supporters does not mean he cannot lose fairly.
Biden’s availability to the media
Trump said he had seen a news report that said Biden hasn’t taken questions from journalists since July 17.
Facts First: We have no idea what Trump might have seen, but the July 17 date is incorrect. Biden took questions during a formal media availability on July 28. He also took questions from a group of four Black and Latino Hispanic journalists on August 4. And he has taken assorted other questions, including in a People magazine joint interview with Sen. Kamala Harris, his vice presidential selection, on August 14.
Obama and ‘spying’
Trump repeated his familiar claim that former President Barack Obama got caught spying on his campaign.
Facts First: Investigators engaged in lawful surveillance of Trump campaign advisers in 2016. But there is no evidence Obama had any role in this surveillance.
Trump has used the word “spying” to describe lawful FBI surveillance of people affiliated with his campaign as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia; the surveillance included court-approved wiretaps and the use of a secret FBI source who reached out to Trump advisers to try to arrange conversations and meetings. (FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump, has said he would not use the word “spying” to describe what he called “surveillance activity.”)
The Justice Department’s inspector general rejected Trump’s previous claims that the FBI planted spies inside his campaign, though the watchdog did find significant errors in its court applications for surveillance of former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
— CNN’s Marshall Cohen contributed to this fact check
New Zealand and the pandemic
Trump said that New Zealand, which has been praised for its handling of the coronavirus, had a “massive breakout yesterday.”
Facts First: New Zealand did not have a “massive breakout”: it reported six new cases on Wednesday, and five more on Thursday. While those small numbers represent an uptick in cases for New Zealand, which went 102 days without any recorded local transmission of the virus, it is a tiny uptick that does not compare with the ongoing US crisis.
The US reported 47,408 new cases on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and it had reported more than 32,000 on Thursday as of 5:15 PM.
You can read more here.
Trump’s stance on the war in Iraq
Trump said he had opposed the war in Iraq before it began but was ignored: “I’d say, ‘Don’t go into Iraq.’ But I was a civilian, nobody cared.”
Facts First: Trump never publicly urged the US not to go into Iraq. Rather, he expressed tentative support for an invasion in a radio interview in September 2002. The war began in March 2003; Trump expressed some critical sentiments soon after that, but he did not emerge as an explicit opponent of the war until 2004.
You can read more here.
The state of the pandemic
Trump touted recent jobs growth, then said the growth is happening during what he said is “hopefully” the “closing moments of the pandemic.”
Facts First: Hopefully or otherwise, it’s just not true that the coronavirus pandemic is in its “closing moments.” The US continues to have tens of thousands of new reported cases per day.
Veterans Choice
Trump repeated a lie he has uttered more than 150 times, saying, “We passed Veterans Choice.”
Facts First: The Veterans Choice bill — a bipartisan initiative led by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the late John McCain of Arizona that allows certain veterans to be covered by the government for health care outside the VA system — was signed into law by Barack Obama in 2014. In 2018, Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which expanded and changed the program.
Polling
Trump referred to polls as “suppression polls,” which are designed to deflate his supporters, then criticized pollsters for surveying registered voters rather than likely voters. Some people who are registered to vote have died, he noted.
Facts First: There is simply no evidence that major pollsters have manipulated their numbers to suppress the enthusiasm of Trump voters, as Trump has repeatedly alleged.
Trump is entitled to argue that polls of likely voters are more accurate than polls of registered voters. (Pollsters often switch to surveying likely voters in the late stages of a campaign, since people can more accurately assess their likelihood to vote as voting gets closer.) But Trump’s comments about deceased people are nonsensical. The fact that some people remain on the voter rolls after having died does not make polls of living registered voters inaccurate.