Hillary Clinton and the Truth-O-Meter
After long anticipation, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her 2016 presidential campaign on April 12.
We’ve been fact-checking Clinton since 2007 -- her first presidential campaign and the beginning of Politifact. We’ve fact-checked 98 of her statements.
Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton, is also a former Democratic senator from New York. Her Truth-O-Meter record over the past eight years includes 34 Trues, 14 Mostly Trues, 22 Half Trues, 17 Mostly Falses, nine Falses and Two Pants on Fires.
We’ll be watching her campaign closely looking for facts to check, but here are some of the most interesting Clinton fact-checks we’ve done so far.
Most recently, we looked into Clinton’s claim that she "fully complied with every rule" while exclusively using private email while secretary of state. We couldn’t put this claim on the Truth-O-Meter because there are many unknowns. But we interviewed several experts on government transparency and records preservation. They said that a lawyer might be able to put together a case that Clinton "complied" with the rules governing federal employee email use, but her actions are nevertheless hard to defend. (Read the full report.)
In 2014 doing publicity for her book Hard Choices, Clinton said that she and Bill Clinton "came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt." It’s possible that the Clintons’ liabilities exceeded their assets when Bill’s term ended in 2001, but they were able to muster a cash down payment of $855,000 and secure a $1.995 million mortgage. Additionally, in the months following their departure from the White House, Bill Clinton regularly took in speaking fees of at least $125,000, and Hillary Clinton received $2.84 million in book royalties. We rated that claim Mostly False.
In another interview, Clinton said the number of jobs created and people lifted out of poverty during Bill Clinton’s presidency was "a hundred times" what it was under President Ronald Reagan. Clinton’s record on these issues does outpace Reagan’s. But the differences are not like night and day, as her phrasing claims. Both presidents saw improvements. We rated this claim False.
Following the landmark Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care law in 2014, Clinton said "a salesclerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception … is not going to get that service through her employer’s health care plan because her employer doesn’t think she should be using contraception." There’s reason to believe that future court decisions could allow companies to forgo payment for all types of birth control, but Hobby Lobby specifically doesn’t shun contraception entirely for its employees; it pays for access to 16 out of the FDA’s 20 approved methods. On balance, we rated the claim Mostly False.
Many Republicans have criticized Clinton’s performance as secretary of state because of the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi. In Clinton’s testimony before Congress, regarding the motivation behind the attack, she asked rhetorically, "At this point, what difference does it make?" The question became an oft-quoted soundbite, so we decided to lay out the full quote in context.
Touting her decisions at the State Department, she wrote in her memoir Hard Choices that by 2009, "dozens of senior terrorists had been taken off the battlefield" by drones. While it’s difficult to find a definitive number just using publicly available evidence, we found that even a conservative estimate using credible accounts is enough to rate her claim True.
Her 2008 campaign
In a 2008 foreign policy speech, Clinton reminisced about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she made in March 1996. She said, "I remember landing under sniper fire." But that's not what happened, as demonstrated by CBS News video that shows Clinton arriving on the tarmac under no visible duress, and greeting a child who offers her a copy of a poem. So in this case, we ruled Pants on Fire.
A stranger one out of Clinton’s first campaign was her claim that "A ham and cheese sandwich on one slice of bread is the responsibility of the USDA ... But a ham and cheese sandwich on two slices of bread is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration." A USDA undersecretary told PolitiFact that Clinton’s description of sandwich regulations is accurate, and the rule "defies logic." We rated her claim True.