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A left-leaning blog asserts that President Donald Trump was busted for approving the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline for financial gain, but the facts of the case ended up being buried.
"Breaking: Trump caught investing in Dakota Pipeline before signing it," read the headline on an undated post on LearnProgress.org. The blog regularly posts items lambasting Trump and his policies.
Facebook flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of its efforts to weed out fake news in its users’ feeds. Most instances of the story being shared on Facebook are on Feb. 8, 2017. The website did not answer our request to confirm the date.
But the implication that Trump approved the pipeline in order to profit from its construction doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
In the post, LearnProgress.org cited a Nov. 26, 2016, Associated Press report that showed Trump owned shares in two companies involved in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,168-mile crude oil pipeline that runs from North Dakota to Illinois.
Environmentalists and Native American tribes have opposed the route of the pipeline, and in December then-President Barack Obama blocked completion of the project.
The AP story pointed out that Trump owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock for a Texas company called Energy Transfer Partners. He had between $500,000 and $1 million the year before that. He also owned between $100,000 and $250,000 in stock in energy company Phillips 66, which the AP says has a one-quarter share of the pipeline.
Much has been made of Trump’s stock in the companies. The issue was reported on widely, as was the fact that he said he sold the shares of pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners in the summer of 2016.
The White House has not confirmed whether he still owns the Phillips 66 shares, so that does remain a question mark. A Trump spokesman we contacted did not answer our questions about those shares.
In any event, the headline suggests that Trump dumped a bunch of money into the pipeline and then approved its construction, ostensibly to make a big profit from it. The timeline doesn’t support that.
Trump said in December 2016, before his inauguration, that he would restart pipeline construction. He didn’t have any actual power to do so until Jan. 20, 2017, well after he sold his Energy Transfer Partners stock.
The headline’s assertion that Trump was caught in some kind of wrongdoing by investing in the pipeline before approving it is wrong and misleading. The potential conflict of interest was known and at least partially addressed before Trump became president and restarted the project.
We rate the headline False.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/e31293f2-6a2f-4526-ba69-4a03895ea482
LearnProgress.org, "BREAKING: Trump Caught INVESTING in Dakota Pipeline Before Signing It," February 2017
CNN, "Donald Trump's personal financial disclosure report," July 22, 2015
DonaldJTrump.com, "Donald J. Trump files personal financial disclosure form with the Federal Election Commission, May 17, 2016
Washington Post, "Wealth Personal financial disclosure report 2," May 18, 2016
ABC News, "7 Things We Learned From Donald Trump’s Personal Financial Disclosure Form," May 18, 2016
CNN, "5 things to know about the Dakota Access Pipeline," Aug. 31, 2016
Dallas Morning News, "Financial interest between Donald Trump and Dakota Access pipeline goes both ways," Oct. 26, 2016
The Guardian, "Dakota Access pipeline company and Donald Trump have close financial ties," Oct. 26, 2016
NBC News, "What Will a Trump Presidency Mean for the Dakota Access Pipeline?," Nov. 12, 2016
Washington Post, "Energy and Environment Trump dumped his stock in the Dakota Access pipeline owner over the summer," Nov. 23, 2016
Associated Press, "Donald Trump's stock in oil pipeline company raises concern," Nov. 25, 2016
Washington Post, "Trump’s stock holdings may give him a personal stake in rules on banks and oil firms," Dec. 2, 2016
Politico, "Obama administration blocks Dakota pipeline, angering Trump allies," Dec. 4, 2016
CNBC, "Trump sells his stake in Dakota Access Pipeline developer," Dec. 5, 2016
Reuters, "Trump supports completion of Dakota Access Pipeline," Dec. 5, 2016
CNBC, "Trump signs executive actions to advance Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines," Jan. 24, 2017
WhiteHouse.gov, "Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline," Jan. 24, 2017
The Hill, "Trump administration giving final green light to Dakota Access pipeline," Feb. 7, 2017
Los Angeles Times, "Construction resumes on Dakota Access pipeline," Feb. 9, 2017
NBC News, "Standing Rock Sioux File Challenge After Trump’s Action on Dakota Pipeline," Feb. 14, 2017
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