As usual, he treated viewers to a dizzying quantity of false claims.
His dishonesty was centered on his now-familiar array of recent favorite topics: the coronavirus pandemic, mail-in voting, protests, China, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
We’re still going through the transcript, but Trump made at least 20 false claims — most of which he has uttered before. Here is a preliminary list:
The coronavirus pandemic
Children and Covid-19: Trump said of the coronavirus: “If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease.” He added, “They don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem.”
Facts First: While children are, on the whole, less likely to get seriously ill or die from the coronavirus than adults are, they are certainly not “immune;” children get infected, transmit the virus, and do sometimes get seriously ill or die.
Here is a longer article on the subject.
Testing and cases: Trump said, “By the way: when you do a lot of testing, you have more cases.”
Facts First: Testing does not create coronavirus cases, just reveals their existence — and, in fact, testing is a pandemic-fighting tool that is supposed to help reduce the number of actual cases.
The virus: Trump said schools should open despite the coronavirus pandemic because “this thing’s going away. It will go away like things go away.”
Facts First: There is no evidence the virus is “going away.” The US had 57,540 confirmed new cases the day before Trump spoke, according to Johns Hopkins University data. And the virus may never disappear entirely; Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress last week, “I do not believe it would disappear because it is such a highly transmissible virus.”
The state of the pandemic: Trump said, “Much of the country’s in really good shape.” He then broadened the claim, saying, “The country’s in very good shape.”
Facts First: This is nonsense. The country remains in the grips of an uncontrolled pandemic. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said on CNN on Sunday that “what we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas.”
Ventilators: Trump claimed that the US had “nothing” in terms of ventilators before the Trump administration hiked production this year, adding, “You go back four months, we didn’t have any.”
Facts First: As Trump’s own health department has acknowledged to CNN, Trump inherited about 19,000 ventilators in the national stockpile, about 16,660 of them in working order. Last week, the White House itself tweeted a graphic that said there were 16,000 ventilators in the stockpile in January, seven months ago.
Testing in India: Trump claimed that India has conducted just 11 million coronavirus tests.
Facts First: India had conducted more than 20 million tests as of Sunday.
New York congressional primaries: Trump claimed that there has been voter fraud in New York congressional Democratic primaries in which the vote-counting was slow, saying, “They’re fraudulent votes.”
Facts First: There is no evidence of voter fraud in the New York races; the counting was plagued by administrative and technological problems, which have nothing to do with fraud.
Absentee voting vs. other mail voting: Trump again tried to create a distinction between absentee voting and other mail-in voting, saying “absentee is okay because you have to go through a process.”
Facts First: There is no real difference; many states, like Florida, where Trump himself votes by mail, make no distinction at all between people who vote by mail while in the state or while out of the state. All mail ballots are subjected to a security process.
Nevada’s plans for mail-in voting: Trump said that, under Nevada’s plans for mail-in voting, “anybody that ever walked will get” a ballot.
Facts First: Nope. Nevada plans to send ballots to all active registered voters, who can only be adult citizens.
Nevada and ballot-counting: Trump said that, if Nevada goes ahead with its plans for mail-in voting, we might not know the election results not only for “months” but “actually, it could be for years.”
Facts First: We can’t definitively fact check the future, but “years” is obvious nonsense.
NATO and Germany: Trump said Germany is “totally delinquent” on military payments and owes money to “us” and “NATO.”
Facts First: Germany does not owe money to the US or NATO over its military spending. While Germany does not meet NATO’s target of each country spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense — it was at an estimated 1.4% in 2019 — that target is not about payments to NATO itself and does not create liabilities.
NATO and Obama: Trump said President Barack Obama, unlike him, did not even “talk about” the need for other NATO countries to increase their defense spending.
Facts First: Obama certainly used gentler public language than Trump has, but Obama did urge members to hike spending.
Protests and race
Monuments and penalties: Trump said he had signed a “bill” that “re-instituted” an old law that gives 10-year penalties to people who destroy monuments.
Facts First: Trump did not sign a bill and did not “re-institute” anything; he simply issued an executive order urging the government to prosecute people to the fullest possible extent under existing laws. Those laws include a maximum, not automatic, 10-year sentence for destroying federal property or certain monuments.
George Soros and protesters: Trump claimed “they say Soros and they say other people” fund Antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascist activists, citing protest signs that appear to be made “in a high-class printing shop.”
Facts First: There is no evidence that liberal billionaire George Soros, a frequent subject of right-wing and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, is funding Antifa. The existence of nice signs does not mean protesters are illegitimate, and many protesters have carried hand-made signs.
The courthouse in Portland: Trump praised federal agents for protecting a Portland building around which protests in the city have centered. He said that this is a “$500 million” building.
Facts First: The courthouse was built for $129 million in the late 1990s, about $200 million in inflation-adjusted current dollars. Trump has previously called it a “billion-dollar building” and a “$600 million building.”
Trump and Black Americans: Trump said he has done more for Black Americans than anybody else with the “one exception” of President Abraham Lincoln — then, a bit later, suggested that Lincoln doesn’t even deserve the exception.
Facts First: We give Trump wide latitude to express opinions, but this one is ridiculous. Lincoln, who emancipated the slaves and won the Civil War, is a certain exception; President Lyndon B. Johnson’s monumental Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act clearly dwarfed the impact of any of Trump’s policies. And we won’t get into the contributions of other presidents or countless Black titans.
China and trade: Trump said no other president had taken in “10 cents” from China.
Facts First: Americans, not China, pay the cost of Trump’s tariffs on imported Chinese products — and the US has had tariffs on Chinese imports for more than two centuries; FactCheck.org has reported that US tariffs on China produced an average of $12.3 billion per year from 2007 to 2016, before Trump took office. You can read a longer CNN fact check here.
China’s economic performance: Trump said that, before the pandemic, China had its worst economic year in “67 years.”
Facts First: China’s officially reported GDP growth rate in 2019, 6.1%, was the lowest in 29 years. Trump has habitually exaggerated how long it had been since China’s growth was as slow as it was in 2019, steadily inflating the figure over time.
Joe Biden and the presidential debates: Trump said of Biden and the presidential debates: “They’re trying to get out, there’s no question about that.” Trump later conceded, however, that Biden himself “has not said that.”
Facts First: Trump was more accurate here than usual, but there is no basis for the claim that Biden is trying to get out of the debates. Biden has repeatedly said he is excited to debate Trump, and Biden’s campaign has formally committed to the three official debates to be held by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The Biden-Sanders task force and immigration: Alleging that Biden has been captured by the far left, Trump said, “Look at the manifesto that he and Bernie agreed to. That’s further left than Bernie ever was — no borders.”
Facts First: This is wrong. The policy task force appointed by Biden and former rival Sen. Bernie Sanders did not recommend “no borders,” though it did call for a far less restrictive immigration policy than Trump’s.