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Fact-checking Donald Trump’s 100-days interview with CBS

Allison Graves
By Allison Graves April 30, 2017
Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan April 30, 2017

President Donald Trump touted his first 100 days as a success and pledged to deliver on promises like health care during a wide-ranging interview Sunday on CBS.

Trump told Face the Nation host John Dickerson that the job is "something that I really love, and I think I've done a very good job at it."

Trump insisted that the latest revision of his health care bill would guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, discussed his feelings toward North Korea's recent missile test and reaffirmed his effort to work with China.

Here’s our rundown of the president’s remarks, along with notes on their overall accuracy and additional points of context. (More of the segment will air May 1.)

‘Pre-existing conditions are in the bill’

With Republicans in Congress still trying to pass a replacement for Obamacare, Dickerson asked Trump how the latest version protects people who voted for him.

Trump said the latest version ensures that people who are sick can still get coverage:

"Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, ‘Pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.’ "

Later, Trump said, "When I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don't cover pre-existing conditions -- we cover it beautifully."

This makes protection for people with pre-existing conditions sound ironclad. But that’s not the case. People with pre-existing conditions could get coverage, but they could be charged higher rates.

The latest GOP proposal, an amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., permits states to seek waivers from the health care law. One of the waivers would give states the authority to allow insurers to set premiums based on health status.

That means insurers could look at people’s current and past health to make predictions about how much medical care they might use in the future.

In practice, that means states can allow insurers to charge more for people who are sicker but less for people who are healthier.

There is protection for people who stay insured no matter what. If someone stays insured, insurance companies can’t charge the person more based on his or her health status.  But low-income people aren’t always able to stay insured, and health experts told us they’re concerned the poor will end up paying more.

Overall, the proposal could lead to less expensive coverage for younger and healthier people, but more expensive coverage for older or sicker people. (For more details, read our story, "PolitiFact’s guide to the GOP amendment to health care bill.")

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Higher rates could result
"Pre-existing conditions are in the bill."
100-days interview with CBS
Sunday, April 30, 2017

The ‘phony Russia story’

When asked about Russia, Trump called the Russian connection to his campaign "a total phony story."

Dickerson: "You said yesterday on Fox that Russia is a phony story. Which part of it is phony?"

Trump: "The concept of Russia with respect to us is a total phony story."

Dickerson: "Meaning the Trump campaign?"

Trump: "Of course, it's a total phony story."

That’s minimizing the truth, though. There might not be a vast conspiracy in which Trump is letting Putin pull the strings in the White House. But there is legitimate evidence that Russia meddled in the election, enough to compel the FBI to investigate some of Trump’s associates’ ties to Russia, as well as bipartisan calls for a congressional inquiry.

Trump also tried to redirect attention to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, arguing that his former opponent also had ties to Russia.

"You have Podesta, who, by the way, I understand has a company with his brother in Russia," he said. "Hillary's husband makes speeches in Russia. Hillary did a uranium deal with Russia. Nobody ever talks about that."

We have looked at similar claims from Trump about Hillary Clinton’s ties to Russia. Trump is giving a one-sided account here.

In regards to Podesta, Trump was probably referencing Podesta Group, a lobbying and public affairs firm founded in 1988 by brothers John Podesta and Tony Podesta. Public records from 2016 show the U.S.-based Podesta Group was paid $170,000 to represent Sberbank, a Russian bank.

Trump’s remarks about Bill Clinton are in reference to Clinton’s  speech for Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank. The bank paid Bill Clinton $500,000 in 2010 to deliver a speech, according to Hillary Clinton’s 2010 financial disclosure form.

Some critics said the bank was just trying to curry favor with the State Department. But Bill Clinton regularly delivers speeches for fees of $500,000 or higher, and Renaissance Capital regularly invites world leaders to speak at its events.

And finally, as secretary of state, Clinton was one of nine federal agency heads to sign off on Russia’s purchase of a controlling stake in Uranium One, an international mining company headquartered in Canada with operations in several U.S. states.

But even with its control of Uranium One, Russia cannot export the material from the United States. Russia was likely more interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer.

The deal followed established federal rules, and we’ve found no evidence that Hillary Clinton played a special role in the process.

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Evidence Russia really meddled
"The concept of Russia with respect to us is a total phony story."
100-days interview with CBS
Sunday, April 30, 2017

China: Currency manipulator, or not?

Trump explained why he reversed his promise on labeling China a currency manipulator: China isn’t manipulating its currency now, and Trump wants China’s help in dealing with North Korea.

This marked a major departure from Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign regarding China, in which he called the nation out for "outrageous theft" and illegal product dumping. He pledged to brand the country a currency manipulator once he was elected. With Trump now on the record as saying the Chinese are "not currency manipulators," we rated this Promise Broken.

Trump seemed to acknowledge the reversal, connecting it to China’s help with North Korea.

"I think that, frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade," Trump said. "Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade."

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Korea concerns trump trade
Declare China a currency manipulator
100-days interview with CBS
Sunday, April 30, 2017

China’s help

Trump said he "will not be happy" if North Korea conducts another nuclear test, but didn’t clarify whether the United States would take military action if it happens. He did suggest that China’s president was on the same page about North Korea's recent missile tests.

"And I will tell you, a man that I've gotten to like and respect — the president of China, President Xi — I believe has been putting pressure on him also," Trump said.

Earlier this month, Trump said with North Korea, no one has ever seen such a positive response from China on America’s behalf. That’s at least partially accurate. China has taken many steps over the decades to manage North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but there’s no clear consensus on whether its recent actions are unprecedented.

Quick hits

• Trump claimed there was weak economic growth in Obama’s last term, claiming that GDP was only 1.6 percent. That figure is accurate but doesn't tell the full story. There are numbers of historical vagaries that color what affects GDP during any administration. No president has full control of the economic growth that happens under his watch.

• Continuing to cite an ongoing audit, Trump gave no indication that he would be releasing his tax returns anytime soon. It’s hard to know how Trump would personally benefit from his tax cut proposals. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that his tax breaks would have cut his taxes by $30 million in 2005, a claim we rated Mostly True.

• Trump said he would continue trade negotiations with Mexico and Canada regarding NAFTA, as opposed to entirely pulling out of the agreement. His campaign promise to renegotiate it remains In the Works.

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Fact-checking Donald Trump’s 100-days interview with CBS