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President Trump's memorable lines at Milwaukee rally fact-checked
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Getty Images). U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Getty Images).

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Getty Images).

Mica Soellner
By Mica Soellner January 15, 2020

Like most politicians, President Donald Trump has a habit of repeating himself. 

Whether it’s exaggerated claims of job growth or the destruction of ISIS, Trump pulled out some of his favorite lines in Milwaukee at his rally Tuesday night.  

We picked out some of the most memorable claims Trump made and turned to past fact-checks done by PolitiFact Wisconsin and the PolitiFact National staff to look at their accuracy. 

(You can find all of the fact-checks on Trump, as well as his potential Democratic opponents and other politicos, at

Trump claims the Obama administration gave Iran $1.8 billion in cash 

We previously fact-checked this statement as part of a broader claim that under President Barack Obama, Iran was given $150 billion in addition to the $1.8 billion cash payment. 

Here is the background:

While $150 billion is slightly exaggerated, it refers to Iranian assets freed under the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The nuclear deal is a global agreement requiring Iran to limit its nuclear activities and allow international inspectors in for the exchange of lifting economic sanctions. 

Once the sanctions were lifted, the U.S. had to pay Iran back for its frozen assets. 

Estimates for how much was actually paid back to Iran ranged from $25 billion to $56 billion, with $150 billion being the highest claim. 

Trump’s context that the Obama administration gave Iran the money is also misleading since it wasn’t a government payment. It was money that already belonged to Iran. Little of the money was actually in the control of the U.S. or any U.S. bank and instead was held in central and commercial banks overseas. 

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal with Iran in 2018. 

The $1.8 billion in cash refers to an amount the U.S. and Iranian negotiators settled on to resolve an old arms contract between the two countries that was made before the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Iran paid the U.S. for military equipment, but the U.S. never delivered the weapons. The payment was made in the form of euros, Swiss francs and other currencies.

We have not rated the $1.8 billion in cash as a standalone claim, but in April of 2018, we rated the combined claim Half True.

Trump says Wisconsin had the lowest unemployment rate ever under him

What’s a Trump rally without a jobs claim?

The crowd cheered when Trump boasted that Wisconsin had the lowest unemployment ever recorded under him. 

As of Oct. 2019 the rate was 3.3%,  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

That’s not the lowest ever, but in March 2019 -- while Trump was in office -- the state’s unemployment rate did hit 2.9% which the BLS confirmed was the lowest on record. 

In May of 2019, we rated this claim True

Trump said wages are growing for the first time in a long time 

Everyone likes to hear they’re making more money, and Trump said Americans are making more money now than in a long time. 

He claimed wages are growing for the first time in a long time, with the largest increases happening for blue-collar Americans. 

But, Trump can’t take all the credit here. 

Wages actually started rising while Barack Obama was president at a faster pace than in the previous two decades. That trend started in 2014, three years before Trump was inaugurated.

The median real wages rose from $330 a week to $351 in the duration of the three years prior to Trump taking office. That’s an average of about 6%.

In March of 2018, this claim was rated False

Trump claims to have defeated 100% of the ISIS caliphate 

While ISIS controls at least 89% less territory at the start of 2018 compared to when Trump began his presidency, it’s a long shot to suggest ISIS as a whole has been defeated. 

Physical land holdings may be largely dismantled, but the group itself still poses a legitimate threat to national and global security. As many as 18,000 fighters potentially remain in Iraq and Syria. 

This claim has not received a formal rating, but an October 2019 analysis by the PolitiFact National staff makes clear it is off the mark.

Trump claims the U.S. is the #1 energy producer in the world 

On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump vowed to bring back the coal industry, so it’s little wonder he often boasts about American performance when it comes to energy production. 

Currently, the United States ranks first in production of petroleum and other liquid fuels in addition to natural gas production. 

Coal is the energy segment where the U.S. is not leading, ranking third behind China and India. 

In October 2018, we fact-checked a Trump claim that "the United States is now the No. 1 energy producer in the world. That happened just recently."

That was rated Half True, largely because the U.S. had taken the top spot years earlier, not "just recently." In isolation, though, a claim that the U.S. is now the top energy producer is on the mark.

Trump claimed late-term abortion was essentially ripping babies out of a mother’s womb

This one is quite a hot take.

In April 2019, PolitiFact National checked this Trump claim -- made in Green Bay -- and rated it False: With a late-term abortion, "the mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby."

In cases of late-term abortion, which are rare, it has to involve a pregnancy that poses an immediate threat to the life of the mother or infants with abnormalities so severe they are at risk of death after just a few days of life.

In even rarer situations when the baby emerges alive, parents then must decide whether to ask their doctors to make any and all efforts to keep them breathing. 

Typically, in the face of an infant with severe abnormalities, parents and doctors must decide whether to resuscitate the dying baby.

Trump’s description of the practice is off the mark and oversimplifies the choices parents and doctors must make in these rare cases. 

Trump blamed Democrats for "catch and release" immigration policy

Trump often points out holes he sees in U.S. immigration policy, including the "catch and release" policy that allows undocumented immigrants to be released while waiting for a hearing before a judge.

In Milwaukee, he blamed the policy on Democrats.

But, the policy can actually be traced back to Republican roots under a Supreme Court decision that took place in 2001, under President George W. Bush. 

The Bush administration responded to the court order by increasing detention bed space and expanding expedited removal of undocumented immigrants. Under that removal process, undocumented immigrants are detained and quickly go before an immigration agent.

Despite attempts to stop the practice, the policy continued under Obama and remains intact under Trump. 

In May 2018, this claim was rated False

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President Trump's memorable lines at Milwaukee rally fact-checked