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Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017
John Kruzel
By John Kruzel December 12, 2017

President Donald Trump’s words can be at odds with reality, a fact we’ve documented again and again during his first year in office. His claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is a "made-up story" earned Trump our 2017 Lie of the Year.

To a lesser extent, Trump in the past year has occasionally found himself on the receiving end of misstatements, proving that no politician, party, group or celebrity holds a monopoly on truth.

With that in mind, here are five notable misstatements about Trump from 2017:

John Lewis wrongly says he never skipped an inauguration before Trump's

In the run-up to Trump’s swearing-in, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., publicly questioned Trump’s legitimacy as president before declaring his plans to boycott the inauguration.

As if to underscore the intensity of his conviction, the civil rights leader and House veteran said he’d never missed an inauguration over a lengthy congressional career that dates back to 1987.

"It will be the first (inauguration) that I miss since I've been in Congress," Lewis said in a Jan. 14 interview on Meet the Press. "You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right."

But Lewis was incorrect: He’d also skipped the first inauguration of George W. Bush, after a controversial recount ended with a 5-4 Supreme Court decision for Bush. We rated Lewis’ statement Pants on Fire.

No, Trump did not remove a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office

On inauguration day, a reporter at Time magazine mistakenly reported that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.

The reporter quickly discovered the bust had been obscured from view, and issued a correction and apology. (Time would later lay out a post-mortem of the good faith error in painstaking detail.)

That evening, Sean Spicer tweeted a photo of the bust in its Oval Office perch from the White House press secretary account.

As we noted at the time, the erroneous reporting apparently angered President Trump, who told employees at CIA headquarters Jan. 21 that he has great respect for the late civil rights leader and that King’s bust would be a permanent fixture while he’s in the White House.

Maxine Waters’ muddled stance on Trump impeachment

In the early months of Trump’s presidency, perhaps no member of Congress spoke more about the possibility of impeachment than Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. So it caught us by surprise when Waters claimed she had not called for Trump’s ouster.

On April 18, Waters tweeted: "The President is a liar, his actions are contemptible, & I'm going to fight everyday until he's impeached." Later that day, when Waters was asked about her tweet during an interview on MSNBC, she replied, "I have not called for impeachment."

Waters then seemed to draw a distinction between calling for impeachment outright, which she claimed she hadn’t done, versus a more procedural call for investigations that could lead to impeachment, which she said was the intent of her message.

The problem is that on April 15, just three days before her appearance on MSNBC, Waters spoke at a rally on the Capitol grounds during which she vowed to "fight every day until he is impeached."

She also led the crowd in a chant of "Impeach 45," referring to Trump, the 45th president. The crowd responded to her invitation, and Waters led them by chanting "Impeach 45" three times. She then closed her speech saying, "Go ahead: Impeach 45," before exiting the stage.

You can watch the April 15 video here that helped earn Waters a Pants on Fire.

Prediction that Comey would refute Trump fell flat

Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey in the midst of a probe into Trump associates’ ties to Russia came as a surprise — as did the manner in which he did it.

In his May 9 letter firing Comey, Trump thanked the FBI director for assuring him three times that the bureau was not investigating Trump personally.

Weeks later, on the eve of Comey’s highly anticipated testimony before Congress, CNN published a story with the headline, "Comey expected to refute Trump," which said the ousted FBI director would contradict Trump’s claims about Comey’s assurances.

"Comey is going to dispute the president on this point if he’s asked about it by senators, and we have to assume that he will be," CNN analyst Gloria Borger, one of the bylined reporters on the story, said on CNN on June 6, 2017. "He will say he never assured Donald Trump that he was not under investigation, that that would have been improper for him to do so."

But as we noted at the time, instead of refuting Trump’s claim, Comey corroborated it. He told lawmakers during the June 7 hearing that he did in fact assure Trump three different times, once in person, and later in two phone calls.

CNN later published a correction stating that "Comey does not directly dispute that Trump was told multiple times he was not under investigation."

Trump greeted disabled boy at White House event, despite claims of snubbing

British author J.K. Rowling, who penned the Harry Potter books, tweeted to millions of followers a video purporting to show Trump snubbing a disabled boy.

Three-year-old Monty Weer, who was born with a severe spinal cord defect, and his family were on hand for a White House event July 24, 2017, where Trump touted Republican health care overhaul efforts.

After Trump’s speech, a video circulated online that showed the president not shaking Weer’s outstretched hand as he walked by the wheelchair-bound boy.

Rowling shared the video in a tweetstorm that pounded Trump for his apparent wronging of Weer, which she likened to Trump’s mocking of a disabled journalist during the 2016 campaign.

"Trump imitated a disabled reporter. Now he pretends not to see a child in a wheelchair, as though frightened he might catch his condition," Rowling tweeted on July 28, 2017.

But an unedited video showed that Trump in fact did greet the boy, bending down to speak to him as he walked up to the podium (starting around 2:18 in this video). As a result, we rated Rowling’s accusation Pants on Fire. She later apologized.


Read the 'Lie of the Year': Russian election interference is a 'made-up story'

More 'Lie of the Year' coverage: The readers' poll

The Trump team's falsehoods in 2017

A look back at Lie of the Year, 2009 to 2016

The original fact-check: Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim Russia story 'made-up' by Democrats

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Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017