Donald Trump on the Truth-O-Meter
PolitiFact has been fact-checking Donald Trump since 2011, when he debuted on our Truth-O-Meter with this statement about President Barack Obama: "The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don't know who he is."
That statement earned a Pants on Fire rating. Media accounts and biographies are filled with on-the-record, named classmates who remember Obama. We even tracked down one of his classmates and talked to her ourselves.
Since that first fact-check, Trump has made several more provocative statements that have caught our attention, including a slew from his speech in June announcing that he was running for the Republican nomination for president.
As of this writing, we’ve rated 20 of Trump’s statements on our Truth-O-Meter; the current breakdown of ratings are as follows:
(See his file on the Truth-O-Meter, which updates dynamically as we post new fact-checks.)
Here’s a selection of some of our recent fact-checks of Donald Trump.
On the Islamic State as hotel magnates
"Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They've become rich. I'm in competition with them," Trump said. "They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don't have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should've taken."
Trump has facts muddled here, too. The Islamic State didn’t build a hotel in Syria, they took over an existing hotel in Iraq. And they’re not using it to lure luxury travelers; it houses Islamic State commanders. We rated his statement False.
On the size of the U.S. economy
"Last quarter, it was just announced our gross domestic product -- a sign of strength, right? But not for us -- it was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It's never below zero," Trump said.
Trump messed up his economic terms; the gross domestic product was not "zero." The size of the U.S. economy -- which is what gross domestic product is -- is in the trillions of dollars and not anywhere close to zero. The growth in the gross domestic product has been zero, but it’s been below zero 42 times over 68 years. That’s a lot more than "never." We rated his claim Pants on Fire!
In 1999, Trump said he "was strongly pro-choice," Now he says he’s against abortions, along with the American public. "In terms of polling, the pro-choice (support) is going down a little bit," Trump said.
Actually, the latest polling suggests that in May of 2015, 50 percent of Americans identified as pro-choice compared with 44 percent of Americans identifying as pro-life. That gap hasn't varied a lot over the years, though the results reflect a slight increase in Americans identifying as pro-choice. We rated his statement False.
On nuclear weapons
"Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger, by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker. Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work," Trump said. "It came out recently they have equipment that is 30 years old. They don’t know if it worked."
There have problems with the U.S. nuclear program, but they have tended to problems of people—either mismanaging the moving of weapons or personal behavior. The weapons themselves appear to be functioning fine. The Defense Department and the Energy Department are required by law to certify the safety, security, and effectiveness of the arsenal on an annual basis. While some of the weapons are aging, the United States has been engaged in a modernization effort that will cost roughly $35 billion a year during the next decade, which comes to 5 percent to 6 percent of planned national-defense spending. The bill could reach $1 trillion over the next 30 years. We rated Trump’s statement False.
On Chevy in Japan
"When did we beat Japan at anything?" Trump asked. "They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn't exist, folks. They beat us all the time." There aren't many Chevys in Japan, but they do exist. In 2014, Chevrolet sold 597 cars in Japan. No, we are not forgetting any zeroes at the end of that figure. Granted that's not a lot, and Trump has a point that Japan does better in the United States on car sales. But he should have used more accurate words to make his point. We rated his statement Mostly False.
On the real unemployment rate
"Our real unemployment is anywhere from 18 to 20 percent. Don't believe the 5.6. Don't believe it," Trump said. Setting aside his paranoia about the government cooking the books, Trump is off base even if you give him the maximum benefit of the doubt. Our research showed the highest formal statistic for underemployment is 10.8 percent, and if you use alternative measures, there’s still no realistic way to get it past 16 percent. And even that is a considerable stretch. We rated his statement False.