Fact-checking Donald Trump
Donald Trump announced he was running for president in 2016, and he did it with Trump style in a rambling bit of political theater.
Trump bragged. "I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists. I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich."
Trump trash-talked. "It's like take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team. That's the difference between China's leaders and our leaders."
Trump made grandiose promises. "I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall."
And, Trump got his facts wrong -- many times.
On nuclear weapons
"Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger, by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker. Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work," Trump said. "It came out recently they have equipment that is 30 years old. They don’t know if it worked."
There have problems with the U.S. nuclear program, but they have tended to problems of people—either mismanaging the moving of weapons or personal behavior. The weapons themselves appear to be functioning fine. The Defense Department and the Energy Department are required by law to certify the safety, security, and effectiveness of the arsenal on an annual basis. While some of the weapons are aging, the United States has been engaged in a modernization effort that will cost roughly $35 billion a year during the next decade, which comes to 5 percent to 6 percent of planned national-defense spending. The bill could reach $1 trillion over the next 30 years. We rated Trump’s statement False.
On Chevy in Japan
"When did we beat Japan at anything?" Trump asked. "They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn't exist, folks. They beat us all the time." There aren't many Chevys in Japan, but they do exist. In 2014, Chevrolet sold 597 cars in Japan. No, we are not forgetting any zeroes at the end of that figure. Granted that's not a lot, and Trump has a point that Japan does better in the United States on car sales. But he should have used more accurate words to make his point. We rated his statement Mostly False.
On the real unemployment rate
"Our real unemployment is anywhere from 18 to 20 percent. Don't believe the 5.6. Don't believe it," Trump said. Setting aside his paranoia about the government cooking the books, Trump is off base even if you give him the maximum benefit of the doubt. Our research showed the highest formal statistic for underemployment is 10.8 percent, and if you use alternative measures, there’s still no realistic way to get it past 16 percent. And even that is a considerable stretch. We rated his statement False.
On the Islamic State as hotel magnates
"Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They've become rich. I'm in competition with them," Trump said. "They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don't have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should've taken."
Trump has facts muddled here, too. The Islamic State didn’t build a hotel in Syria, they took over an existing hotel in Iraq. And they’re not using it to lure luxury travelers; it houses Islamic State commanders. We rated his statement False.
On the size of the U.S. economy
"Last quarter, it was just announced our gross domestic product -- a sign of strength, right? But not for us -- it was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It's never below zero," Trump said.
Trump messed up his economic terms; the gross domestic product was not "zero." The size of the U.S. economy -- which is what gross domestic product is -- is in the trillions of dollars and not anywhere close to zero. The growth in the gross domestic product has been zero, but it’s been below zero 42 times over 68 years. That’s a lot more than "never." We rate his claim Pants on Fire!
For more fact-checks of Donald Trump, see his PolitiFact scorecard.