Fact-checking Trump's tweets this week on health care, Russia and 'Morning Joe'
Over the past week, the Senate’s attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act, a signature campaign promise of President Donald Trump, has dominated the news. But of the 50 statements Trump has tweeted and retweeted as of Friday morning, only nine mentioned health care.
The rest promoted other campaign promises and railed against his political opponents and the news media.
Here are the facts and important context behind some of Trump’s most provocative 140-character thoughts this week.
As special counsel Robert Mueller and his team look into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, Trump tried to shift the focus of public concern to Clinton.
"Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie!" Trump tweeted.
In this tweet, Trump seems to have reached back into the trove of Democratic National Committee emails Wikileaks released almost a year ago.
In one email, Brad Marshall, the chief financial officer of the DNC, suggested highlighting Sanders’ faith to sway Southern Baptist voters in favor of Clinton. In another, DNC national secretary Mark Paustenbach suggested pushing the narrative that Sanders didn’t have his act together.
While these conversations among DNC staffers show they tried to hurt Sanders’ candidacy, they do not show Clinton colluding with the DNC.
Trump also tried to repackage the Russia story in a different direction, handing over responsibility and demanding an apology from his predecessor in back-to-back tweets.
"The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia…"
..under a magnifying glass, they have zero "tapes" of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!
Trump is referring to an August 2016 CIA intelligence report Obama received that said Russian President Vladimir Putin was orchestrating an intervention in the election, intending to get Trump elected. (The report was spotlighted in a Washington Post investigative story detailing a struggle within Obama’s White House to punish Russia for interference in the election.)
According to the Post, Obama did not make the report public to avoid interfering in an already contentious election, but he ended up politicizing what may have otherwise been perceived as a threat to national security.
It’s too far to say Obama did nothing, however. A spokesman for Obama, Eric Schultz, noted that Obama ejected 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian facilities in the United States, among other things. "This situation was taken extremely seriously," Schultz said.
Trump’s next misleading tweet, also on Monday, came in response to the administration’s first victory on the campaign promise to suspend immigration from seven terror-prone countries.
"Very grateful for the 9-O decision from the U. S. Supreme Court. We must keep America SAFE!" Trump tweeted.
The tweet refers to the court’s partial lifting of two lower courts’ stays on the travel ban, although it "may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," the court said.
Declaring the decision 9-0, however, is misleading, as it was unsigned, and the final ruling won’t be issued until October, when the court actually reviews the case.
As several lawmakers expressed opposition to a Senate health care bill the CBO predicted would leave 22 million additional Americans uninsured, Trump praised Republican senators’ efforts to repeal Obamacare without any assistance from the Democrats.
"With ZERO Democrats to help, and a failed, expensive and dangerous ObamaCare as the Dems legacy, the Republican Senators are working hard!" he tweeted.
Democrats have opposed the bill, but top Republicans negotiated the details without their input (as well as other Republican colleagues).
Senators Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Ron Wyden, D.-Ore., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. sent a tongue-in-cheek letter to the relevant panel chairs requesting Republican senators open hearings on the bill to the Democrats, listing 31 available rooms.
The next series of statements Trump tweeted target what he calls the fake news media.
He first called attention to the retraction of a story CNN posted online about a purported investigation into a pre-inaugural meeting between Trump transition member Anthony Scaramucci and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian investment fund.
"Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!" Trump tweeted.
Following the retraction, three staffers resigned, including Thomas Frank, the story’s author, Eric Lichtblau, an assistant managing editor, and Lex Harris, head of the investigations unit.
CNN immediately apologized to Scaramucci, writing in an editor’s note the "story did not meet CNN's editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci."
Rich Barbieri, the CNNMoney executive editor, also sent an internal memo saying, "No one should publish any content involving Russia without coming to me and Jason," referring to CNN vice president Jason Farkas.
We have not seen reports of other "big management changes."
CNN wasn’t the only one accused of peddling fake news. On June 28, Trump railed against the New York Times.
Ten minutes later, he clarified the source of his rage.
"Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.," Trump tweeted.
His tweet followed a story by the New York Times headlined, "On Senate health bill, Trump falters in the closer’s role."
The story quoted an anonymous senator (we don’t use off-the-record sources at PolitiFact) who attended Trump’s meeting at the White House with Republicans.
"A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan — and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange," the article said.
The CBO, however, found that the bill would eliminate two taxes aimed at wealthy Americans and levies on the medical-related industry, amounting to a cut of over $540 billion.
The same day, in an attempt to prove his knowledge of the health care bill, Trump tweeted a graph of spending on Medicaid over time
"Democrats purposely misstated Medicaid under new Senate bill - actually goes up," he tweeted.
While Medicaid spending will in fact increase over the next few years, spending on Medicaid under the Senate plan would be 26 percent lower than under current law in 2026, according to the CBO report.
"The graph shows Medicaid spending would continue to go up which everyone agrees on — but it doesn’t show the impact of curbing the expansion and adding a per capita cap — in the world of scoring a reduction in the current law projected spending is a cut," said Diane Rowland, the executive vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Washington Post was the next media target of Trump’s tweets.
First issue: The Washington Post is not part of Amazon, but privately owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
While the tax issue Trump is referring to is not clear, Amazon has been collecting state sales taxes in all applicable states since April 1. Current legislation, which is under discussion in Congress, restricts the collection of sales tax unless sellers have a storefront in that state.
The tweet followed a Washington Post story the previous day that reported at least four Trump golf properties display fake Time magazine covers of the president. The fake covers include the publishing date of March 1, 2009, although Time did not publish any issues that day.
The headlines read "Trump is hitting on all fronts" and declare his former reality show, The Apprentice, a "television smash." Time asked the golf resorts to take the covers down.
His most recent tweet storm attacked MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"
The tweet is the latest volley in a tumultuous relationship between the hosts and Trump, who switched from promoting appearances on Morning Joe to calling the show unwatchable and Brzezinski "off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess."
"It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job," the MSNBC media relations team tweeted in response.
Scarborough and Brzezinski wrote in an op-ed in the The Washington Post that top White House staffers were threatening to publish a negative article about them unless they begged to have it spiked. "We ignored their desperate pleas," Scarborough and Brzezinski wrote. They also called Trump’s allegation that Brzezinski was bleeding badly from a face lift a lie.
Trump responded in a signature early-morning tweet.
"Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show"
Scarborough responded within a few minutes: "Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven't spoken with you in many months."