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10 misleading Trump attack lines from the WikiLeaks email dump

Lauren Carroll
By Lauren Carroll October 17, 2016

WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of internal emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has provided Donald Trump a new line of attack in the presidential campaign.

The emails, allegedy taken from campaign chair John Podesta’s personal email account, show deliberations about Clinton’s policy positions and talk about how to respond to various controversies. They also include excerpts from some of Clinton’s paid speeches, which Clinton has so far refused to release.

But for all of the opportunities for criticism, there are also plenty of instances where Trump has gone too far.

PolitiFact identified 10 Trump attack lines based on the WikiLeaks dump that either need context or misinterpret what the emails actually show.

1. On having separate public and private positions

What Trump said: "Hillary Clinton told her Wall Street donors that you need to have a public position and a private position." (Oct. 10 in Ambridge, Pa.)

What the emails actually said: The speech in question was given to the National Multifamily Housing Council in April 2013. The organization contributes to Democrats and Republicans and is not a Wall Street firm.

Clinton’s comments were about maneuvering behind closed doors to be successful politically.

Clinton told the group, "You just have to sort of figure out how to ... balance the public and the private efforts that are necessary to be successful, politically, and that's not just a comment about today. That, I think, has probably been true for all of our history, and if you saw the Spielberg movie, Lincoln, and how he was maneuvering and working to get the 13th Amendment passed... Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody's watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position."

2. On whether terrorism is a "threat" to the nation

What Trump said: "Crooked Hillary Clinton said that terrorism was not a threat, quote, ‘not a threat to the nation.’ " (Oct. 10 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

What the emails actually said: In the same speech, Clinton said terrorism "is a danger to our citizens at home."

In an August 2013 speech to the Global Business Travelers Association, Clinton was saying that terrorism does not threaten the existence of the United States.

Clinton said, "But make no mistake, as the recent travel alert underscores, we still face terrorism. It's not a threat to us as a nation. It is not going to endanger our economy or our society, but it is a real threat. It is a danger to our citizens here at home, and as we tragically saw in Boston, and to those living, working, and traveling abroad."

3. On ISIS infiltrating with refugees

What Trump said: "She knows the terrorists are trying to infiltrate through the refugee program." (Oct. 12 in Ocala, Fla.)

What the emails actually said: Clinton wasn’t talking about the United States.

In an October 2013 speech to a Jewish group in Chicago, Clinton said she was concerned about the threat of terrorists disguised as refugees infiltrating Jordan and Turkey.

She said there is concern about "Jordan because it’s on (the Syrian) border, and they have hundreds of thousands of refugees and they can’t possibly vet all those refugees so they don’t know if, you know, jihadists are coming in along with legitimate refugees. Turkey for the same reason."

4. On Clinton’s support for "open borders"

What Trump said: The speeches show "Hillary Clinton's radical call for open borders, meaning anyone in the world can enter the United States without any limit at all." (Oct. 10 in Ambridge, Pa.)

What the emails actually said: It’s not clear at all what she meant, experts agreed.

In a May 2013 speech to a Brazilian Bank, Clinton said, "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere."

Clinton’s campaign said she was talking about clean energy across the hemisphere. In the current election, Clinton has not called for "open borders" in an immigration sense.

5. On universal health care

What Trump said: The speeches show Clinton wants "universal health care coverage, single-payer system. She wanted to be like Canada." (Oct. 10 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

What the emails actually said: Clinton has praised single-payer style systems (where all health care is run through the government). The emails, however, talk about reaching universal coverage. It does not spell out how. Publicly, Clinton says she wants to improve the current system, which relies primarily on privately managed health care.

In a June 2013 speech in Grand Rapids, Mich., Clinton noted that single-payer health care systems, like in Canada, have good primary care and can keep costs low, but this is in part because "they do impose things like waiting times."

In a January 2015 speech in Saskatoon, Canada, Clinton discussed attempts to build on the Affordable Care Act to "get to affordable universal health care coverage like you have here in Canada." While the Affordable Care Act does aim to get every American insured, it is not a Canadian-style single-payer system because it is primarily fueled by employer-based health insurance.

6. On the Justice Department’s email investigation

What Trump said: "The Department of Justice fed information to the Clinton campaign about the email investigation so that the campaign could be prepared to cover up her crimes." (Oct. 11 in Panama City, Fla.)

What the emails actually said: This is unproven in the emails.

In a May 2015 email, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon wrote, "DOJ folks inform me there is a status hearing in this case this morning, so we could have a window into the judge's thinking about this proposed production schedule as quickly as today."

While this does indicate Fallon, former top spokesman at the Justice Department, was in contact with department employees, he and other campaign staff members were discussing public information, the schedule of a public hearing about the eventual release of Clinton’s State Department emails. The criminal investigation had not yet begun when this email was sent.

7. On "attacking Catholics"

What Trump said: "The new emails show members of the Clinton team attacking Catholics." (Oct. 11 in Panama City, Fla.)

What the emails actually said: In an April 2011 email, Center For American Progress fellow John Halpin wrote, "Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts).... They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy."

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote back, "I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals."

8. On getting debate questions in advance

What Trump said: "The emails also show that Hillary was given the CNN town hall questions before her big debate against Bernie Sanders." (Oct. 11 in Panama City, Fla.)

What the emails actually said: This talking point of Trump's is more accurate than the others. The emails do show that the Clinton campaign got information that was similar to a voter's town hall question. (The emails do not show Clinton got all of the questions before the event.)

On March 12, 2016, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile sent an email to Clinton team members with the subject line, "From time to time I get the questions in advance." The email included a question about whether states should abolish the death penalty.

The next day, at a CNN presidential town hall with Clinton and her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, an audience member asked Clinton about her position on the death penalty. Sanders was not presented with the same question.

9. On Sidney Blumenthal and Benghazi

What Trump said: The emails quote Clinton insider Sidney Blumenthal as saying, "The attack was almost certainly preventable, Benghazi. Clinton was in-charge of the State Department and it failed to protect the United States personnel and an American consulate in Libya." (Oct. 10 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

What the emails actually said: Trump misread the email.

That quote was in one of the leaked emails, but the words were written by Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald.

10. On Wall Street campaign funding

What Trump said: Clinton said she "quote, ‘needs Wall Street money in order to successfully run a campaign.’ "

What the emails actually said: Clinton didn’t actually say that.

In a November 2013 speech to Goldman Sachs, Clinton said campaigns generally need money from Wall Street. (Oct. 10, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

She said, "Running for office in our country takes a lot of money, and candidates have to go out and raise it. New York is probably the leading site for contributions for fundraising for candidates on both sides of the aisle, and it's also our economic center. And there are a lot of people here who should ask some tough questions before handing over campaign contributions to people who were really playing chicken with our whole economy."

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10 misleading Trump attack lines from the WikiLeaks email dump