President Donald Trump made 78 false claims last week, including 24 related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and Russia. That compares to 61 false claims the week before and 29 the week before that.
In the hours leading up to and after Mueller testified before two House committees, Trump unleashed a misinformation blitz about him on Twitter, in a Fox News interview and while speaking to reporters.
Trump also made 11 false claims about China and trade, 10 false claims about immigration, and 9 false claims about his popularity and accomplishments. He was particularly dishonest during a speech to teenagers: he made 22 false claims during his off-script address to a conference held by the conservative student group Turning Point USA.
A complete list of false claims is below. First, some of the week’s lowlights and lower-lights:
The most absurd false claim: The handshake champion
Trump likes to boast that he is smarter, tougher and more productive than previous presidents. He regularly finds new ways to favorably compare himself to the men who came before.
Some of these superlatives are not remotely true. Last week, for example, he said he has more handshake stamina than they did.
Speaking at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit on July 23, Trump bragged that he had “stood up there for the whole thing” and shaken the hand of every member of the graduating classes at the military service academies where he gave speeches — unlike previous presidents, who would “leave after about 50 or 60 people,” he said he was told.
A single Google search brings up articles about how Barack Obama and George W. Bush also shook every graduate’s hand.
The most egregious false claim: An unfounded charge of racism
Trump has a preferred strategy for responding to serious allegations: accuse his critics of the very same thing he is being accused of.
We saw it in 2016 with Hillary Clinton, whose allegation that Vladimir Putin wanted a “puppet” as president was met with a Trump rejoinder of “you’re the puppet.” We’ve seen it during Trump’s presidency with his assertions that his critics are “unhinged” and that Democrats were the ones who committed “collusion.” And we saw it last week: as Trump was being accused of racism for his disparaging remarks about Rep. Elijah Cummings and his Baltimore district, he tweeted that Cummings was “racist.”
We don’t fact-check almost any of Trump’s insults; within reason, he has the right to his opinion. But this claim isn’t within reason. There is just no evidence that Cummings is racist.
The most revealing false claim: “Whatever I want”
Rejecting the suggestion that he could possibly have committed obstruction of justice, Trump gave the Turning Point teens this lesson about the Constitution: “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.”
That’s outlandishly wrong. Article II, which outlines the president’s powers, also includes a provision that the President can be impeached.
Does Trump believe that he actually has unlimited authority? Or, more likely, did he hear a lawyer make a particular argument about his Mueller-related powers under Article II and turn that into “do whatever I want”?
At the very least, his claim reveals a president uninterested or incapable of speaking precisely. It also suggests, again, that this president is not much interested in respecting checks and balances.
Invented number of the week
Trump twice cited a “new” poll that he said showed that a mere “11%” of people favor the initiation of impeachment proceedings.
We and others looked for such a poll. There is no such public poll. The only thing anyone could find was an Economist/YouGov poll that showed that 11% of Republicans favored impeachment. With the broader public, support has regularly been in the 30s or higher — and it was 36% in that poll.
Adventures in Trump history
Fueled by George Conway, the anti-Trump conservative lawyer who is married to senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, the hashtag #LostTrumpHistory rocketed around Twitter on Monday, mocking the President’s penchant for wild falsehoods about the past and his role in it.
Trump’s comments last week were littered with not-even-close-to-correct historical anecdotes.
Among other things, he claimed that the US had “never had any kind of cooperation with Mexico ever” before his presidency (there was lots), that the European Union was founded to compete with the US economically (“preposterous,” one expert told us), that the US had never before taken in money from tariffs on China (it was billions a year prior to Trump’s presidency), that previous presidents arrived without judicial vacancies to fill (they had dozens), and that China’s economy had “flat-lined” before it was allowed to enter the World Trade Organization (it had been one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for decades).