Fact-checking Donald Trump’s press conference on eve of Kavanaugh, Ford hearings

In a freewheeling press conference on the eve of a highly-anticipated hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump defended his nominee and his own presidential performance, answering questions about the court, Iran, North Korea, China, the U.S. economy and immigration.

Trump said that, like Kavanaugh, he himself has faced from accusations from numerous women, and argued that the presumption of innocence, a bedrock principle of American justice, is under threat.

"Always, I heard you’re innocent until proven guilty," Trump said. "In this case, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country."

We fact-checked some of Trump’s statements, many of which fell short of full accuracy.

"It's not for the FBI (to investigate), if you look at what Joe Biden said, he said, ‘They don't do this,’ and he said it very clearly."

Recently, former Vice President Joe Biden said clearly that the FBI should investigate.

The other time he weighed in was 1991, when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for then-nominee Clarence Thomas. Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill had accused Thomas of sexual harassment.

The FBI conducted a limited investigation. When Biden talked about those findings at the 1991 hearings, he didn’t say they "don’t do this." Addressing Thomas, Biden said the report reached no conclusion.

"The reason why we cannot rely on the FBI report — you wouldn’t like it if we did — is because it is inconclusive," he said. "They say ‘He said, she said, and they said.’ Period. So when people wave an FBI report before you, understand, they do not, they do not, they do not reach conclusions."

To Trump’s broader point that the Kavanaugh matter is not for the FBI, the 1991 Thomas investigation is proof that it has taken up this type of issue. Trump said this before, and we rated that claim False.

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Biden didn't say that
"It's not for the FBI (to investigate), if you look at what Joe Biden said, he said, ‘They don't do this,’ and he said it very clearly."
In a news conference.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
"And whether it was a man or woman 30 years ago, 36 years ago, in fact, I don't even know how many years ago because nobody knows what the time is."

The details of Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh are not as hazy as Trump suggests.

In her first public comments on the incident, Ford told the Washington Post she believes the assault occurred in the summer of 1982. That would have made Ford a 15-year-old, around the end of her sophomore year in high school, and Kavanaugh a 17-year-old at the end of his junior year.

Ford fleshed out the details in subsequent public remarks. According to an advanced copy of the testimony she was expected to deliver before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27, Ford recalled the alleged assault occurred after a day spent swimming at a local country club in suburban Maryland, outside Washington, D.C.

She acknowledged that some of the specifics have been lost to time, but said the experience has remained an indelible memory.

"I don’t remember as much as I would like to," Ford’s testimony states. "But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult."

"I've been accused. And I was accused by — I believe it was four women … I mean, they made false statements about me knowing they were false. I never met them. I never met these people."

Back in the campaign, Trump said he never met the women who accused him of sexual assault. He later said he knew them "a long time ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago."

At least 16 women reported some type of sexual assault or harassment by Trump. We found that Trump knew or met at least eight of them. We found that they either appeared on The Apprentice, had their picture taken with Trump, interviewed him, or had a relative confirm their story. Read the explainer.

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Met 8 of 16
"I was accused by — I believe it was four women … I mean, they made false statements about me knowing they were false. I never met them. I never met these people.”
In a press release
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
"I wasn't happy with Roy Moore, let's get that straight. But Roy Moore was a Republican candidate, and I would've rather had a Republican candidate win."

Trump did not waver in his support for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore leading up to Alabama’s special election in December 2017. He continued to endorse Moore, even after women came forward saying he pursued them sexually while they were teens and he was in his 30s.

The allegations came out in November 2017. Trump gave Moore a full endorsement on Dec. 4 and continued to encourage people to vote for him through the election.

"U.S. steel is opening up a minimum of eight plants."

That’s False. It would be huge news, given the company only has four steelmaking facilities in the United States. But there’s no evidence on their website that any new mills are on the horizon. U.S. Steel is restarting two shuttered mills. Other companies are re-opening or building a few other mills.

"We have trade imbalances with almost everybody. It's a rare exception that we don't."

This is incorrect. In March, we looked at the full list of countries and country equivalents that are tracked by the United States on trade balances to see whether the United States had a surplus or a deficit with them.

We found 129 countries or country equivalents with whom the United States had a surplus in 2017, out of 234 entities listed overall. This means that the United States had a surplus in 55 percent of those countries, or a majority.

Notably, this data refers to goods only; if we had the data for both goods and services, the percentage would likely have gone even higher, since the United States generally runs a trade surplus in services.

We found at least six major trading partners with whom the United States had a surplus in 2017 in goods and services combined: Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The United States also had a sizable surplus with the entire region of South and Central America.

That said, it’s reasonable to point out that for the United States, the biggest trade deficits -- such as those with China, Mexico, Japan and Germany -- are larger than the biggest trade surpluses.

Says he "didn’t say" he felt a kinship with Kavanaugh

Trump told a PBS reporter he never said he had "felt a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh. … Why do you say that? Fake news. Why? Did I say that?"

Trump never used the word "kinship" to describe his relationship with Kavanaugh. Instead, he said the accusations leveled against him affect his opinion of those made against Kavanaugh.

He said: "Well it does impact my opinion and, you know why? Because I've had a lot of false charges made against me. I'm a very famous person, unfortunately. I've been a famous person for a long time. But I've had a lot of false charges made against me, really false charges. I know friends that have had false charges. People want fame, they want money, they want whatever. So when I see it, I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television where they say oh, Judge Kavanaugh this or that."

Says Brett Kavanaugh finished No. 1 in his class at Yale.

Kavanaugh graduated from Yale Law School in 1990 and from Yale College in 1987. We found no indication that Kavanaugh finished first in his class from law school or college.

Yale Law School’s explanation of its current grading system says that individual class rank is not computed. Yale Law School in 1968 converted its grading system from letter grades to a modified pass-fail system, "partly to alleviate the destructive competition and anxiety among students," according to the Association of American Law Schools.

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No class ranks
Says Brett Kavanaugh finished No. 1 in his class at Yale.
in a press conference
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
"We spent $3.2 (billion), and we’re getting another $1.6 (billion), and eventually we’re getting the whole thing and we’ll complete the wall."

This is not accurate. Trump has not received money for his promised border wall. His administration so far has received $1.6 billion for new and replacement border fencing and technology — but the funds can’t be used to build the wall he promised.

Even though his administration contracted companies to build wall prototypes, none of them will be used as the design standard for future border wall construction, Customs and Border Protection previously told PolitiFact.

The Trump administration is seeking an additional $1.6 billion for the border wall in fiscal year 2019, but that has not been appropriated by Congress.

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“We spent $3.2 (billion), and we’re getting another $1.6 (billion), and eventually we’re getting the whole thing and we’ll complete the wall.”
in a press conference
Wednesday, September 26, 2018