Hillary Clinton’s top 10 most misleading claims

FBI investigators announced July 5 that Hillary Clinton sent or received more than 100 emails over a private server while secretary of state that contained information that was classified when it was sent.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Cleveland Public Hall in Cleveland, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Phil Long)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Cleveland Public Hall in Cleveland, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

PolitiFact has been fact-checking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton since we launched in 2007, during her first run for the White House. Over that time, she has proven herself to be a careful speaker. Like all politicians, however, she sometimes stretches the truth.

During the many years we’ve fact-checked Clinton, we’ve rated close to 300 of her statements. Just over half — 51 percent — have rated True or Mostly True. Another 23 percent rated Half True. On the negative side, 26 percent of her statements rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.

During the 2016 campaign, we’ve found that the most misleading claims Clinton has made center on her her decision to use a private email server as secretary of state, as well as aspects of her personal biography and how she compares herself with other candidates.

"It was allowed," she said, referring to her decision to use a private email server.

No one ever stopped Clinton from conducting work over her private email server exclusively, but that’s not the same thing as it being allowed. Offices within the State Department told an independent inspector general that if she had asked, they would not have allowed it. We rated this claim False.

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Says, regarding the presence of classified information in her email, that FBI Director James "Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I've said is consistent with what I have told the American people."

A reasonable person would interpret Clinton’s statement to mean Comey has confirmed that Clinton’s public remarks about her email setup have been truthful. This is not the case.

Talking specifically about Clinton’s closed-door FBI interview, Comey said that there is "no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI" about her email practices. But Comey has specifically declined to comment on whether Clinton’s public remarks have been truthful.

Further, while not explicitly rebuking Clinton’s public comments, Comey has highlighted major problems with them, such as her claim that there was no classified information in her email. We rated Clinton’s claim about Comey Pants on Fire.

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Says she "never received nor sent any material that was marked classified" on her private email server while secretary of state.

Over the course of a year, Clinton and her staff painted a picture of an email setup where absolutely zero classified information slipped through the cracks, case closed. An independent FBI investigation has found that to be inaccurate.

It’s important to remember that just over 100 out of the 30,000 she turned over were classified at the time they were sent. Evidence seems to indicate that Clinton generally dealt with classified information in an appropriate manner. However, her sweeping claim is False.

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"I'm the only candidate in the Democratic primary, or actually on either side, who Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers are actually running ads against."

Clinton made this claim on April 3, 2016. At that time, groups backed by Wall Street had run attack ads against virtually every candidate in the primary, both Democrat and Republican. And the financial sector has contributed to both sides of the aisle, including to Clinton’s own campaign.

Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers are running ads against Clinton. But to say she’s the only one being attacked by people associated with the financial sector is Pants on Fire wrong.

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"I am the only candidate on either side who has laid out a specific plan about what I would do to defeat ISIS."

Clinton’s plan for defeating the Islamic State is more detailed, by some measures, than those of other candidates. But by the time Clinton made this False claim in January, at least seven other candidates in both parties had released multi-point plans. Some plans, such as those from former Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, approached Clinton’s in either length or degree of detail. In fact, there’s a significant degree of overlap between the agenda items in Clinton’s plan and in plans released by other candidates.

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"I am the only candidate who ran in either primary who said, ‘I will not raise taxes on the middle class.’ "

Fifteen of the 17 Republican presidential candidates in the primary signed pledges not to raise taxes on anyone, including the middle class. Thirteen of them signed the vow in 2015; the others inked such a pledge earlier in their careers. (Trump did not sign the no-tax-raises pledge.) We rated this claim Pants on Fire.

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"I remember landing under sniper fire."

This Pants on Fire claim comes from Clinton’s 2008 run for the White House, but her political opponents still like to cite it. During a foreign policy speech that year, Clinton reminisced about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she made in March 1996 — saying she landed "under sniper fire."

There's no doubt flying into Bosnia was dangerous back in 1996. However, CBS News video shows Clinton arriving on the tarmac under no visible duress and greeting a child, who offered her a copy of a poem. A Washington Post review of more than 100 news stories from the time documented no security threats to the First Lady.

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"All my grandparents" immigrated to America.

In fact, only one of Clinton’s four grandparents immigrated to America. The rest were born in the United States to immigrant parents. We rated her claim False.

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Says Donald Trump "doesn't make a thing in America."

Many of Trump’s products are made overseas, but not all of them. At least some of his suits and the campaign memorabilia he sells on his website are made in the United States, as are Trump Wines, some of his brand-name bedding, and a few other products. So Clinton’s claim is False.

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The gun industry is "the only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability."

Clinton was talking about a law that says the gun industry is protected from liability in certain instances, but the law also specifies several situations in which the gun industry is susceptible to lawsuits — meaning it has some liability. Further, Congress has passed a number of laws that protect a variety of business sectors from lawsuits in certain situations, so the situation is not unique to the gun industry. We rated Clinton’s claim False.

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