Checking in on Hillary Clinton's Truth-O-Meter record
Hillary Clinton took questions Monday in a town hall sponsored by the Today show, a continuing sign of Clinton’s shift toward more high-profile campaign appearances.
PolitiFact has been watching Clinton closely, however, since her first run for president in 2007. Overall, we’ve fact-checked 125 claims made by the former New York senator and secretary of state.
Here’s a look at some recent Clinton claims we’ve analyzed.
Benghazi probe longest ever?
The Select Committee on Benghazi began in May 2014 with the task of investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in the Libyan city that left four Americans dead. Costing $4.5 million so far, with no final report in sight, critics see the committee as a waste of taxpayer dollars and a partisan witch hunt.
Last week, The Briefing — an arm of the Clinton campaign that aims to counter what it considers misinformation in the public sphere — tweeted the following from its account: "It's the longest-running congressional investigation ever. It's cost taxpayers $4 million. And what's it about?"
That rated False.
We found numerous examples of congressional committee investigations that have lasted much longer than the Benghazi panel's 17 months.
Examples include the House Select Committee on Assassinations (30 months), which probed the killings of Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy; the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor-Management Relations (38 months), which looked into labor industry racketeering; the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War (40 months), which investigated the conduct of the Civil War back in the 1860s; and the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (90 months), which looked at defense contracts from World War II.
Responsibility for her emails
Before she apologized last month for using a private email server while secretary of state, Clinton was defending herself as transparent about the email setup. Clinton said in August that "if I had not asked for my emails all to be made public, none of this would have been in the public arena."
Her comment was disingenuous about how the email controversy came to light, so we rated her claim Mostly False.
There’s a shred of truth in what she said. Her public request in March was the driving force behind the State Department’s decision to release her emails as soon as possible. But that ignores that there were several pending public records requests for her emails that would have made the emails public regardless, and her request came after a New York Times story in March that revealed she did not use a government email account as secretary of state.
Not exactly the model for proactive transparency that she made it out to be.
Attacking the Republicans
Also back in August, Clinton rolled out her "New College Compact" for helping public college students receive federal assistance for tuition. On Twitter, she compared herself to the Republicans, tweeting, "Not one of the 17 GOP candidates has discussed how they'd address the rising cost of college. Disappointing, but not surprising."
That claim rates False.
Right off the bat, we noticed that Clinton left out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has made college costs a major part of his presidential platform. Other candidates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have discussed ideas and positions, while other candidates like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have at least mentioned the subject at times.
Clinton’s tweet left the opposite impression.
Tripped up on taxes
As Clinton tested the crowds in Iowa, she tried to make a point about helping out the little guy and girl with tax reform. She said, "Hedge fund managers themselves make more and pay less in taxes than nurses and truck drivers."
The Truth-O-Meter said False.
Clinton is wrong on the dollar amounts of taxes paid. By our calculations, the best-compensated hedge fund managers pay multi-million dollar tax bills, while a well-paid nurse making $100,000 would pay about $15,700. This includes not just income taxes but also payroll and other federal taxes.
Clinton’s campaign argued she meant to say "tax rates," not taxes paid. But that's more complicated, and the data doesn't clearly back up the point. Also, it’s not what she said.
On recessions and Republicans
Clinton pointed out a curious historical pattern in a recent speech: "Under Republicans, recessions happen four times as frequently as under Democrats."
That claim rates Mostly True.
Clinton accurately recounted how recessions have historically lined up with Republican administrations since World War II. But she loses ground for suggesting they had something to do with them. There are many factors that play into the overall health of the economy, so experts told us not to take Clinton’s implication that Democratic presidencies are automatically better for the economy as gospel.