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TBR News February 12, 2019

Feb 12 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. February 12, 2019:”The constant flood of easily disproven perverications uttered by our Presdent is absolutely amazing. If he ever made an accurate statement abut anything, the sun would stand still over Washington and the moon over Mar l Largo. His constant falsifications resonate with the dimwitted Red Hat brigades that infest is public meetings like some kind of a chronic skin eruptions but the general pubic is slowly becoming aware that their president is, to be kind, not an honest man. Not only is he not honest but he has never told the truth when a lie would suffice”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump Responds to Beto O’Rourke’s March for Truth in El Paso With Flagrant Lies
  • Donald Trump has said 4325 false things as U.S. president
  • Trump Says ISIS Is Defeated. He Is Ignoring the Bigger Picture
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 

Donald Trump Responds to Beto O’Rourke’s March for Truth in El Paso With Flagrant Lies

February 12 2019,

by Robert Mackey

 

In El Paso, Texas on Monday night, Donald Trump responded to the March for Truth — a protest against his false claims about the city led by its most famous resident, Beto O’Rourke — by lying about it.

In remarks transmitted live and uncorrected by the news networks, Trump claimed that a crowd of about 13,000 supporters at his rally in the city numbered, “let’s say 35,000 people,” while the march addressed by O’Rourke had drawn, at most, “300 people.” El Paso’s police department estimated that the number of protesters was in fact between 10,000 and 15,000.

While skeptics following events online could find out the truth, networks like ABC shared Trump’s entirely false claims on social networks with no indication that they were untrue, suggesting that a core error in coverage of his 2016 campaign looks set to be repeated for 2020.

“He has long since figured out something important, and perhaps dangerous,” Ray Suarez, the veteran broadcaster, observed on Twitter about Trump’s willingness to lie. “He knows it doesn’t really matter if he tells the truth about the O’Rourke crowd, or his own. By tomorrow morning, who’s going to care beyond those who already care? He may gain little, but loses nothing.”

Video of O’Rourke’s 22-minute speech, shared by the potential candidate for the presidency, showed that thousands of marchers had indeed crowded onto a baseball diamond across from the arena where the president’s rally took place, to hear their former Congressman call out Trump’s lies about the city’s crime rate.

Far from being a city saved from violent crime only by the construction of a border wall in 2008, as Trump had falsely claimed during his State of the Union speech, O’Rourke stressed that El Paso’s crime rate had already plummeted before the partial barrier was constructed. As Bob Moore and Carlos Sanchez reported for The Texas Tribune, Trump opened his speech, beneath banners reading “Finish the Wall,” with the blatant lie that construction of a border wall along the Texas-Mexico border was underway. “I don’t know if you heard, right, today we started a big beautiful wall right on the Rio Grande, right smack on the Rio Grande,” Trump claimed, falsely. When the president’s supporters launched into the familiar chant, “Build the Wall!” the former real estate developer invited them to pretend along with him: “You mean, ‘Finish the Wall.’”

Trump later continued his long-running war on observable reality by claiming, without evidence, that El Paso’s Republican mayor had manipulated the FBI statistics that showed a sharp drop in violent crime before the construction of the barrier.

The president’s attempt to clear a path for his lies by attacking the media once again incited his supporters to such hostility that one even attacked a cameraman for the BBC.

Trump supporters, desperate to combat credible reports from journalists on the ground, and the crowd-size estimates of local fire and police officials, resorted to circulating screenshots of the protest taken nearly an hour after O’Rourke’s speech ended.

Trump’s attempt to gaslight the nation about his popularity in El Paso relative to that of O’Rourke was clearly pre-planned, since his lie about the rival protest march drawing only a few hundred people was promoted before his speech by both his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and his son, Donald Trump Jr. — who introduced his father by falsely claiming that “about 200 people” were at the “Beto rally,” and then posted a photograph of what he said was a crowd of 35,000 waiting for the president to speak.

Even before leaving the White House for El Paso, Trump had hinted that his decision to hold his first campaign rally of the year in O’Rourke’s hometown on the Mexican border was at least partly an attempt to show up a potential rival. Hours before the rally, Trump bragged, “We have a line that is very long already… And I understand our competitor’s got a line too, but it’s a tiny little line.”

 

Donald Trump has said 4325 false things as U.S. president

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

Toronto Star

  • Jan 28, 2019

“How does Da Nang Dick (Blumenthal) serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee when he defrauded the American people about his so called War Hero status in Vietnam, only to later admit, with tears pouring down his face, that he was never in Vietnam. An embarrassment to our Country!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump was correct that Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal lied about having served in Vietnam. But Trump was also lying: Blumenthal never claimed to have been a war hero, simply to have served in Vietnam during the war when he actually served in the Marine Corps Reserve in the U.S. Blumenthal also did not cry at all, let alone have “tears pouring down his face,” when he acknowledged his misstatement.

“Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump was misinterpreting, or misdescribing, a story on Fox and Friends, his favourite morning television show. The story said that legislators in various states had put forward bills to introduce Bible literacy classes, not that the states were actually implementing such classes yet. There is a difference. USA Today reported: “At least three Bible literacy bills were considered in 2018 – in Alabama, Iowa and West Virginia – but none passed, according to the ACLU..”

“Tariffs on the “dumping” of Steel in the United States have totally revived our Steel Industry. New and expanded plants are happening all over the U.S. We have not only saved this important industry, but created many jobs. Also, billions paid to our treasury. A BIG WIN FOR U.S.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: “Saved” is an exaggeration: the steel industry was not close to dying before Trump imposed his tariffs. The American Iron and Steel Institute said then: “The steel industry directly employs around 140,000 people in the United States, and it directly or indirectly supports almost one million U.S. jobs.” Bloomberg reported in an October 2018 fact check: “In fact, U.S. steelmakers Nucor Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc. were two of the healthiest commodity companies in the world before Trump took office and imposed 25 percent tariffs on foreign steel imports.” The Associated Press reported at the beginning of December 2018: “A year ago, the steel industry employed 141,200 people, says the Labor Department. Now, 145,100. That’s a gain of 3,900 jobs during a period when the overall economy added 2.5 million jobs. Steel wasn’t at death’s door a year ago and it isn’t ‘back’ in any historic sense.”

  • Jan 30, 2019

 

“Well, what happens is that right now China’s paying 25 per cent on $50 billion worth of goods…You know, billions of dollars are being poured into our treasury. Billions. We never had five cents come into our treasury. Now we have billions of dollars…”

Source: Interview with the Daily Calle

in fact: As the Associated Press noted, it is not even close to true that the U.S. “never” had tariff revenue coming into its treasury before Trump’s tariffs; Trump himself has spoken at length about previous presidents who imposed tariffs. As the AP reported: “This is wildly off base. The notion that the U.S. suddenly has revenue coming in from tariffs, thanks to his trade war, defies history that goes back to the founding of the republic. President George Washington signed the Tariff Act into law in 1789 — the first major act of Congress — and duties from imports were a leading source of revenue for the government before the advent of the modern tax system early in the 20th century. Tariffs on goods specifically from China are not remotely new, either. They are simply higher in some cases than they were before.” Obama imposed high-profile tariffs on Chinese tires, solar panels and steel.

“Well, what happens is that right now China’s paying 25 per cent on $50 billion worth of goods. Mostly high technology. And I was going to charge them 25 per cent on $200 billion worth of goods and then I’d have $267 billion leftover where I’m not charging them anything.”

Sorce: Interview with the Daily Caller

in fact: China does not pay the tariffs Trump is charging on U.S. imports of Chinese goods. While some Chinese manufacturers eat a portion of the cost, the U.S. importers pay the tariffs, and they usually pass on a substantial portion of the cost to consumers in the form of higher prices.

“It’s very interesting, California, you know, they always say, ‘Don’t build a wall,’ well, they were begging me to build a wall over in San Diego. The day I finished they said, ‘Don’t build a wall.’ But they were begging me to build the wall because people were pouring in through that border, through that area. We built a brand new wall. That’s not a renovated wall, that’s a brand new wall. We took down the old wall, we built a brand new wall. It’s fantastic, looks great, they did a great job, totally stopped everybody from coming in. The day we completed it California started saying, ‘Don’t build a wall, we don’t want a wall.’”

Source: Interview with the Daily Caller

in fact: There is no basis for Trump’s repeated claim that San Diego begged him to build a border wall there. San Diego city council voted 5-3 in September 2017 to express opposition, and even the Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has stated that he is opposed: “Mayor Faulconer has been clear in his opposition to a border wall across the entirety of the U.S. southern border,” a spokesperson said in September 2017.

“Look, there are numerous things we could do, including declaring a national emergency where we have very good law on our side, including the fact that I’m already building a tremendous amount of wall. People don’t realize that.I’m going to be announcing the exact numbers but I’ll have over a hundred miles of wall either built or under construction between new and renovated. Over a hundred miles. We have a tremendous amount of money right now to build a wall. We’re building the wall.”

Source: Interview with the Daily Caller

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started. It is true that some existing barriers have been renovated, but not that new wall has been built. In San Diego, for example, the Union-Tribune reported in June 2018: “Construction began Friday just east of Border Field State Park to replace one of San Diego’s barriers along a 14-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Customs and Border Protection.” The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump had long proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction. (It is getting more complicated to fact-check Trump’s claims about a “wall,” since the definitions changed in late 2018 and early 2019: Trump began promoting new steel fences as a possible part of “the wall,” though he had previously dismissed non-concrete structures as something different, while Democrats have begun opposing new steel fences as “wall,” though many of them supported such fencing in the past. For now, we will go by the definitions that were being used at the time a decision was made. So, for example, we would not classify the fencing built after the passage of the 2006 Secure Fence Act as “wall,” since that is not how it was described when Congress approved it. However, since Trump and Democrats are both describing his proposals for additional fencing as part of his wall, we will classify that as part of his wall if it is ever built.)

“You know, I made many statements, many promises. In fact, here are some of them, folks. But those are some of the things we’ve accomplished. V.A. Choice, V.A. Accountability — you know, these are things that for decades and decades and I got a lot of these things.”

Source: Interview with the Daily Caller

in fact: The Veterans Choice health program was passed and created in 2014 under Obama. The law Trump signed in 2018, the VA MISSION Act, modified the Choice program.

“Just so you understand, our military needed funding desperately. Totally depleted. And this bill was great for the military. Had I vetoed it, you would never have gotten the numbers back that I got: $700 and $716 billion over the last two years. Which is substantially more — much more than President Obama was able to get for the military…So Paul said, ‘please sign the omnibus bill.’ Now, in all fairness to Paul, I may have signed it anyway because it was so much more money than anyone ever thought possible for the military, and equal to the wall and maybe even greater than the wall was my promise to refurbish the military.”

Source: Interview with the Daily Caller

in fact: Obama signed a $725 billion version of the same bill in 2011.

“And we got 306 to 223 and that’s that. Won states that nobody thought were possible to win.”

Source: Interview with the Daily Caller

in fact: Hillary Clinton earned 232 electoral votes, not 223. Trump hedged slightly this time, saying “I believe,” but this was the 19th time he said 223, so we’re not going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • Jan 31, 2019

“Nellie Ohr, the wife of DOJ official Bruce Ohr, was long ago investigating for pay (GPS Fusion) members of my family, feeding it to her husband who was then giving it to the FBI, even though it was created by ousted & discredited Christopher Steele. Illegal! WITCH HUNT.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump appeared to be mixing up a story from the right-wing Daily Caller. The story said that Nellie Ohr had conducted paid research into whether Trump’s family members “were involved in dealings and transactions with people who had suspicious pasts.” The Caller reported that Ohr told members of Congress that Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy who compiled a dossier of information about alleged Trump links to Russia, gave her husband, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, information from the dossier, hoping he would pass it to the FBI. The Caller story did not say either that Nellie Ohr passed information to her husband to give to the FBI or that she gave her husband any information from Steele. The Caller reported: “There is also no indication that Ohr’s research of the Trump children wound up in the dossier.” (If contrary evidence emerges, we will amend this item.)

“Democrats are becoming the Party of late term abortion, high taxes, Open Borders and Crime!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The Democrats do not endorse “open borders.” They endorsed, and offered Trump funding for, various kinds of border security measures, just not Trump’s wall.

“Just concluded a great meeting with my Intel team in the Oval Office who told me that what they said on Tuesday at the Senate Hearing was mischaracterized by the media – and we are very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, etc. Their testimony was distorted press…I would suggest you read the COMPLETE testimony from Tuesday. A false narrative is so bad for our Country. I value our intelligence community. Happily, we had a very good meeting, and we are all on the same page!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: It is not clear what intelligence officials Dan Coats and Gina Haspel told Trump in their private meeting, but Trump provided no evidence that media outlets had mischaracterized their testimony, which was broadcast live on television and online. The testimony did indeed differ from some of Trump’s statements. For example, though Trump has declared that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Coats said there is “some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization” and said North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.” Trump provided no evidence that media outlets had inaccurately reported their comments.

“Very sadly, Murder cases in Mexico in 2018 rose 33% from 2017, to 33,341.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There was a 16 per cent increase in the number of murders in Mexico, from 28,866 to 33,341. In citing a “33 per cent” increase, Trump appeared to be citing a Fox Business segment that relied on a Reuters report that misinterpreted the Mexican data — comparing the number of murder victims in 2018 to the number of murder investigations in 2017 rather than to the number of victims that year.

“This has been going on for quite some time. It will be, by far, if it happens, the biggest deal ever made — not only the biggest trade deal ever made. It will be the biggest trade deal by far, but it’ll also be the biggest deal ever made. The two largest countries doing a trade deal. There won’t be anything that will match that.”

Source: Meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He

in fact: A Trump trade agreement with China would not be the biggest trade deal ever made. (Even if you ignore the fact that the two countries are not negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement, merely trying to resolve particular areas of dispute.) The U.S. did more than $1.5 trillion in trade with the countries that were part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership signed under Barack Obama in 2016; according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. does about half that with China, with $710 billion in total two-way trade in 2017.

“But pre-NAFTA was — we had huge surpluses with Mexico. With NAFTA, we have huge deficits. We lose $100 billion a year on trade with Mexico. Does that sound good? And this has been going on for many years. So I stopped it. I stopped it a lot.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: The U.S. has never had a trade deficit of $100 billion with Mexico in any year. The deficit was $69 billion in 2017, $71 billion in 2017 when counting goods alone and excluding trade in services.

“And just remember, we are taking in billions and billions of dollars from China. We never took in 10 cents from China.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: It is not even close to true that the U.S. never had even “10 cents” of tariff revenue coming into its treasury from tariffs on China before Trump’s tariffs; the U.S. had numerous tariffs on China under previous presidents, and Obama imposed high-profile tariffs on Chinese tires, solar panels and steel.

“So, in California, they wanted the wall built in San Diego so badly. And we built it. And probably I should have waited, because as soon as it was finished, they started screaming, ‘We don’t want a wall. We don’t want a wall.’ But they wanted the wall so badly. And, by the way, it worked. Nobody is getting through. But the minute it was built, they started saying, ‘We don’t want a wall.’”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: There is no basis for Trump’s repeated claim that San Diego begged him to build a border wall there. San Diego city council voted 5-3 in September 2017 to express opposition, and even the Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has stated that he is opposed: “Mayor Faulconer has been clear in his opposition to a border wall across the entirety of the U.S. southern border,” a spokesperson said in September 2017

“And we’re building the wall right now. I mean, a lot of people don’t know that, but we have a lot of wall under construction. We’ve given out a lot of contracts over the last three, four weeks — good contracts.” And: “We are building a lot of wall. You know, I’m not waiting for this committee.” And: “So we’re building a lot of wall. We’re building new sections that are starting in about two weeks. We’re building some brand new sections — large sections. And the wall is getting built. I would like to build it even faster, but it’s getting built, and it’s getting built very substantially, as some of you see because you’ve been there.” And: “We’re building the wall right now — a lot of it. People don’t know that, and nobody reports it, but that’s OK. Because it’s not very exciting when you say it’s built. You know, people. But let me just tell you: We’re building the wall right now. It’s going up fairly rapidly. We’re renovating tremendous amounts of wall, which is good stuff that’s in very bad shape with massive holes in it and fencing coming down. It’s being beautifully renovated. In some cases, we have to replace it. We renovate some. We replace some. We build some new. But the wall is going up right now in all different forms.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started. It is true that some existing barriers have been renovated, but not that new wall has been built. In San Diego, for example, the Union-Tribune reported in June 2018: “Construction began Friday just east of Border Field State Park to replace one of San Diego’s barriers along a 14-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Customs and Border Protection.” The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump had long proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction. (It is getting more complicated to fact-check Trump’s claims about a “wall,” since the definitions changed in late 2018 and early 2019: Trump began promoting new steel fences as a possible part of “the wall,” though he had previously dismissed non-concrete structures as something different, while Democrats have begun opposing new steel fences as “wall,” though many of them supported such fencing in the past. For now, we will go by the definitions that were being used at the time a decision was made. So, for example, we would not classify the fencing built after the passage of the 2006 Secure Fence Act as “wall,” since that is not how it was described when Congress approved it. However, since Trump and Democrats are both describing his proposals for additional fencing as part of his wall, we will classify that as part of his wall if it is ever built.)

“Oh, I campaigned against Stacey Abrams. I know that President Obama campaigned for her. Michelle Obama campaigned for her. And Oprah campaigned for her.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: Michelle Obama did not visit Georgia to campaign for Democratic governor candidate Stacey Abrams, and she did not campaign for Abrams in any other way, a spokesperson for Barack Obama said.

“And we’re talking about fentanyl, too. As you know, most of the fentanyl — which is killing 80,000 Americans a year is — it comes through China.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: Trump’s “80,000” figure is a major exaggeration. According to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control report released the previous month, fentanyl was involved in 18,335 overdose deaths in 2016, the highest on record. The numbers for 2017 and 2018 may well be higher, but they are nowhere near 80,000. The CDC issued a preliminary estimate of 72,000 total overdose deaths in 2017, and about 29,000 of them were estimated to be connected to synthetic opiates, including fentanyl.

“You know, Seoul has 30-some-odd million people, and it’s literally right off their wall, by the way.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: “Literally right off their wall” is at least a slight exaggeration. Seoul is more than 45 kilometres from the heavily fortified border with North Korea.

“You know, Seoul has 30-some-odd million people…”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: Trump slightly exaggerated Seoul’s population. Korean media outlets reported in August 2018 that the population of the Seoul metropolitan area was 25.52 million.

“And we’ve made tremendous progress with North Korea. When I came in — or, let’s say, at the end of the last administration — frankly, it looked like we were going to war with North Korea.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: There is no evidence the U.S. was close to going to war with North Korea when Trump took office, or, as Trump has repeatedly claimed, that Obama told Trump he was close to going to war with North Korea; such a remark would be a total departure from Obama’s long-held views on North Korea. Obama’s office has declined to comment on Trump’s previous claims about Obama supposedly making this statement at his post-election meeting with Trump, but Ned Price, a former special assistant to Obama and spokesperson for the National Security Council, called Trump’s remark “absolute revisionist history,” saying, “I’ve never heard anything even remotely like that coming up during that session.” Obama’s strategy of “containment and deterrence” was “predicated in part on the understanding that a military conflict on the (Korean) Peninsula would be nothing short of catastrophic,” Price said. In the past, Trump has confirmed what news outlets have reported: Obama told him North Korea was the biggest or most urgent problem he would face, not that war was inevitable.

“And I think I did a great thing when I terminated the ridiculous Iran nuclear deal. It was a horrible, one-sided deal that was $150 billion…and lots of other bad things.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: The “$150 billion” figure has no basis. Experts said Iran had about $100 billion in worldwide assets at the time; after the nuclear deal unfroze Iranian assets, Iran was able to access a percentage of that $100 billion, but not all of it. PolitiFact reported: “The actual amount available to Iran is about $60 billion, estimates Garbis Iradian, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew pinned it at $56 billion, while Iranian officials say $35 billion, according to Richard Nephew, an expert on economic sanctions at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.” It is also an exaggeration to say Iran was “taking over the Middle East” before Trump took office, though it exerted significant influence in several countries.

“So, if Europe, as an example — the EU charges us 72 per cent tariff on corn, and they don’t even want it, and we charge them nothing — it doesn’t work that way anymore.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: Liz Friedlander, spokesperson for the National Corn Growers Association, said, “The EU has a 25% retaliatory tariff on US corn that was implemented in June. Prior to that, imports were duty-free.”

“Tremendous unemployment numbers — among the best we’ve ever had in the history of our country. Individual groups the best: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women. Numbers that we haven’t seen before. The overall is the best numbers. Best employment numbers in 51 years. So we’re doing really well. I wish the press would report it.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: Though Trump said “employment,” this was a clear reference to his usual boast about the unemployment rate, which hit a 49-year low in September 2018. The claim had become untrue by the time Trump spoke here. The rate for January 2019 was 4.0 per cent, lowest since 2000, or 18 years prior, if you don’t count earlier periods of Trump’s presidency.

“Tremendous unemployment numbers — among the best we’ve ever had in the history of our country. Individual groups the best: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: The women’s unemployment rate in May 2018, 3.6 per cent was the lowest since late 1953. By the time Trump spoke here, however, the rate had increased to 3.9 per cent, higher than the 3.8 per cent of December 2000, just 18 years prior.

“Tremendous unemployment numbers — among the best we’ve ever had in the history of our country. Individual groups the best: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women. Numbers that we haven’t seen before.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: The African-American unemployment rate was up to 6.8 per cent in January 2019, almost a full percentage point from its May 2018 low of 5.9 per cent — but we’ll still count Trump’s claim as accurate because the rate had not been lower than 6.8 per cent at any time prior to his presidency. He was inaccurate, however, about Asian-Americans. The Asian-American unemployment rate briefly dropped to a low, 2.0 per cent, in May 2018 — a low, at least, since the government began issuing Asian-American data in 2000 — but the most recent rate at the time Trump spoke, for January 2019, was 3.2 per cent. This was higher than the rate in Obama’s last full month in office, 2.6 per cent.

“We lost $500 billion with China, for many years, a year. Anywhere from $300 (billion) to $500 (billion), $505 billion a year was lost in our dealing with China.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data. The deficit was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services.

“We’re trying to work out a new trade deal with China. I think it will happen. Something will happen. But it’s a very big deal. It will be — if it does happen, it will be, by far, the largest trade deal ever made.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: A Trump trade agreement with China would not be the biggest trade deal ever made. (Even if you ignore the fact that the two countries are not negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement, merely trying to resolve particular areas of dispute.) The U.S. did more than $1.5 trillion in trade with the countries that were part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership signed under Barack Obama in 2016; according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. does about half that with China, with $710 billion in total two-way trade in 2017.

“The steel industry is thriving now and it was dead when I came to office. It was dead. It was a dead industry. They were dumping steel all over the place. The jobs were going. And if any of you were in the steel industry, I think you can probably tell them, you know. And aluminum, too…We literally were not going to have steel companies. We weren’t going to make steel in this country.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: The steel industry was not dying before Trump imposed his tariffs. The American Iron and Steel Institute said then: “The steel industry directly employs around 140,000 people in the United States, and it directly or indirectly supports almost one million U.S. jobs.” Bloomberg reported in an October 2018 fact check: “In fact, U.S. steelmakers Nucor Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc. were two of the healthiest commodity companies in the world before Trump took office and imposed 25 percent tariffs on foreign steel imports.” The Associated Press reported at the beginning of December 2018: “A year ago, the steel industry employed 141,200 people, says the Labor Department. Now, 145,100. That’s a gain of 3,900 jobs during a period when the overall economy added 2.5 million jobs. Steel wasn’t at death’s door a year ago and it isn’t ‘back’ in any historic sense.”

“And since the election, we’ve gained more than 500,000 jobs — and that number is going to be very soon to 700,000 jobs — all in the manufacturing world, which is a beautiful world, a high-paying world, and very important for our country.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: Trump was exaggerating slightly. The U.S. gained 481,000 manufacturing jobs between Nov. 2016 and Jan. 2019.

“In the eight years before I took office, we lost nearly 200,000 manufacturing jobs. They were leaving. People were talking about the fact that you needed a magic wand; you’ll never bring them back. You remember the previous administration, he said that they said — he said — they all said you needed a magic wand; manufacturing jobs were over.”

Source: Signing of executive order on Buy American

in fact: The first part of Trump’s claim, about manufacturing job losses under Obama, is literally true, so we would not include it on a false claims list by itself, but highly misleading. Obama took office during a severe recession during which the number of manufacturing jobs had been plummeting before he took office; it was down 1.5 million since Jan. 2007, two years prior to him taking office, and then fell another 1.1 million in his first year in office. After that, though, it rose by nearly 1 million over the rest of his presidency. Independent of all that, the second part of Trump’s claim is false. Obama never said “manufacturing jobs were over.” Rather, at a televised PBS town hall in Elkhart, Indiana in 2016, Obama said that certain manufacturing jobs “are just not going to come back” — but also boasted that some manufacturers are indeed “coming back to the United States,” that “we’ve seen more manufacturing jobs created since I’ve been president than any time since the 1990s,” and that “we actually make more stuff, have a bigger manufacturing base today, than we’ve had in most of our history.” Obama did mock Trump for Trump’s campaign claims that he was going to bring back manufacturing jobs that had been outsourced to Mexico, saying: “And when somebody says — like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for — that he’s going to bring all these jobs back, well, how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do? There’s no answer to it. He just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.” But, again, Obama made clear that he was talking about a certain segment of manufacturing jobs, not all of them.

 

“You have a tremendous power. I guess I have the power of a very big, uh, I think Dan [Scavino, a White House aide] said it’s like 162 million if you add up the different sites, the five sites, or whatever it is but it’s a lot. I think on the one it’s — [Crosstalk] People. On Twitter. If you add up Facebook and add up Instagram and add up three of four things.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: Even if you’re counting generously, Trump does not have over 150 million people following him on these three social media platforms. Adding up his Twitter account (58 million followers), his Facebook account (25 million followers), the White House Facebook account (8.5 million followers), his Instagram account (12 million followers), the White House Instagram account (4.5 million followers), the official “POTUS” Twitter account (25 million followers), and the official “POTUS” Facebook account (5 million followers), Trump is at 138 million followers. Since many of these people undoubtedly follow him on more than one platform, the total number of actual humans is even further below 162 million. (We will update this item if the White House provides information about some other social media site or sites that give him the additional 24 million followers.)

“But we have a lot of things going. China. China was killing our country. They were taking out $500 billion dollars a year. Just ripping it out of our country. We wouldn’t have survived, I mean we were going to go down the tubes. And now they’re, I mean they want to make a deal so badly and it’s, it’s big stuff.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data. The deficit was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services. And it is obviously untrue that the U.S. “wouldn’t have survived” if it continued to have large trade deficits with China.

“You know I’m building the wall. You know that. I’m building the wall right now. I’m building — it’s been funded, and we’re buying it right. And we’re renovating large sections of wall. We’re building new sections of wall. We’re building the wall. The wall is going up as we speak. We’ll be up to, by the end of this year, 115 miles…So I’m building the wall now, as we speak. And I’ll continue to build the wall, and we’ll get the wall finished.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started. It is true that some existing barriers have been renovated, but not that new wall has been built. In San Diego, for example, the Union-Tribune reported in June 2018: “Construction began Friday just east of Border Field State Park to replace one of San Diego’s barriers along a 14-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Customs and Border Protection.” The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump had long proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction. (It is getting more complicated to fact-check Trump’s claims about a “wall,” since the definitions changed in late 2018 and early 2019: Trump began promoting new steel fences as a possible part of “the wall,” though he had previously dismissed non-concrete structures as something different, while Democrats have begun opposing new steel fences as “wall,” though many of them supported such fencing in the past. For now, we will go by the definitions that were being used at the time a decision was made. So, for example, we would not classify the fencing built after the passage of the 2006 Secure Fence Act as “wall,” since that is not how it was described when Congress approved it. However, since Trump and Democrats are both describing his proposals for additional fencing as part of his wall, we will classify that as part of his wall if it is ever built.)

“I mean, the primary collusion was Hillary Clinton.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: The claim that Clinton or the Democrats more broadly colluded with Russia is simple nonsense; the word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — just does not apply to Democrats’ Russia-related activities. The accusation is based on the fact that the British ex-spy who produced a research dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, which was funded in part by Clinton’s campaign, used Russian sources in compiling his information. That does not come close to meeting the definition of “collusion.”

Trump: “Sure, now you know Roger didn’t work for me in the campaign.” Question: “Initially and then he –” Trump: “Well, yeah, but that was before I — you know, that was either early primary or before primary.” Question: “It was August or September.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

     in fact: As noted by Trump’s questioner, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Stone did work for Trump’s campaign until August 2015. Trump accurately pointed out that Stone left the campaign before the first Republican primary voting (Trump’s campaign said he was fired, Stone said he quit), but that is obviously not the same as not working for the campaign at all.

“So I’m sure you hear good things about him (acting defense secretary Pat Shanahan). He’s a very solid guy. You know it’s interesting, historically, you just never — you rarely put a military person in, which surprises me. When I first got here, I said what do you mean? That’s the natural of all naturals. Actually you need special approvals to put them in, you know, etc., etc. Normally a business person goes in and I mean you have one exception or two exceptions, but historically a business person goes in to the secretary of defense.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: The New York Times fact-checked this claim and found, “The opposite is true. Most secretaries of defense have had previous military experience. Of the 26 men to have held the position since 1947, when the position was created, 19 have served. The other seven were businessmen.

  • Feb 1, 2019

“Syria was loaded with ISIS until I came along. We will soon have destroyed 100% of the Caliphate, but will be watching them closely.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump was correct that the U.S. and its allies have recaptured almost all of the territory formerly controlled by ISIS — but not that Syria is no longer “loaded with ISIS.” The U.S. and its partners have not killed even close to all of ISIS’s personnel. Two reports in August 2018, one by the United Nations Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team and one by the U.S. Lead Inspector General, estimated that there were more than 20,000 ISIS fighters remaining in Iraq and Syria; both reports said the number could be closer to 30,000. The U.S. military has publicly used much lower numbers; the Washington Post reported in August: “U.S. military officials disputed the new assessments but declined to give alternative numbers, saying it is against military policy. The figures ‘seemed high,’ said Col. Sean Ryan, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, but he added that ‘with all the variables, there is really no way to know.’” The military news website Task & Purpose reported in November: “Ryan, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, repeated the 2,000 figure when briefing reporters on Tuesday. However, it is difficult to determine exactly how many ISIS fighters remain in their last enclave in Syria because they are dug in deeply and the terrain is difficult for combat operations, he said. ‘The numbers game is difficult to count because ISIS is underground – they’re in tunnels; they’re hiding,’ Ryan said. ‘So it’s not like we watch them walk into to a building and we’re counting as they go in. They’re spread apart.’” Ryan also noted that new ISIS reinforcements continued to arrive, “mostly over the Turkish border, at a rate of about 100 a month.”

”If we make the deal with China, you’re talking about, it’ll be a different world for us. We lost $500 billion a year with China, for many years. Five-hundred billion, not million. Five-hundred billion. We’re not going to do that anymore.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data. The deficit was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services.

“When a caravan starts in the middle of Honduras, obviously they’re allowing it to start. And they want it to start because they want to not have certain people in their country. So what do they do? They put them in the caravan.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: There was no evidence for this conspiracy theory about the government of Honduras. (It is nearly identical to Trump’s baseless conspiracy theory about the diversity visa lottery program: he has repeatedly and falsely claimed that foreign governments put their unwanted citizens into the lottery to dump them on the United States.) The month prior, Vice-President Mike Pence issued a statement about his phone call with the president of Honduras, which said, “Vice President Pence commended President Hernandez for the proactive and vigorous response to the most recent migrant caravans, including the arrest of several organizers.”

“Mexico — it just came out yesterday, numbers were just released: Thirty-eight thousand people were murdered in Mexico — up, like, an incredible amount, 30 per cent or something, from the year before. Thirty-eight thousand people were murdered in Mexico. It’s one of the most, unfortunately, unsafe countries in the world. We need a protective barrier for our country.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: As Trump himself correctly tweeted the day prior, Mexico recorded 33,341 homicides in 2018, according to official statistics, not “38,000.” That was an increase of 16 per cent, from 28,866 to 33,341.

“If you ever took some of the walls down in California — for instance, one story: In San Diego, they were begging us to build a wall. I mean, they were putting pressure on us — that area of San Diego — where people were rampant going through. And you’d have a lot of security, but the security can only do so much.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: There is no basis for Trump’s repeated claim that San Diego begged him to build a border wall there. San Diego city council voted 5-3 in September 2017 to express opposition, and even the Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has stated that he is opposed: “Mayor Faulconer has been clear in his opposition to a border wall across the entirety of the U.S. southern border,” a spokesperson said in September 2017.

”Now, in all fairness to the Democrats, many of them want the wall. And I see it. They’re just dying to say what they want to say, but they can’t say it as well as they would be able to if they were allowed to do it.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: There is simply no evidence for this claim.

”You know, if you look at El Paso, if you look at certain places — but El Paso was one of the most dangerous cities in the whole country. Once the wall was completed, it became one of the safest — immediately. It wasn’t like it took five years. Some of you know this. Immediately, it became one of the safest cities in the whole country.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: El Paso was not one of the most dangerous places in the country prior to its border fencing being erected in 2009, nor did the fence make the city dramatically safer. As Factcheck.org reported in a thorough debunking: “El Paso has never been ‘one of the most dangerous cities in the country.’ The city had the third lowest violent crime rate among 35 U.S. cities with a population over 500,000 in 2005, 2006 and 2007 — before construction of a 57-mile-long fence started in mid-2008…El Paso has had the lowest murder rate among the state’s six largest cities nearly every single year going back to 1985…Its murder rate during that span was regularly four and five times lower than the rates in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth. And for decades, it has had a murder rate far below the average among other large U.S. cities.”

“Well, we have a lot of money, and that’s why we’re building. I mean, we have a lot of money. Don’t forget, we had a billion-six approved. Then we had another billion-six approved. Now, in theory, we have a billion-three approved. But we’re renovating a lot of walls that were basically dilapidated.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: Congress approved $1.6 billion for border projects in 2018, mostly for replacement fencing and some for new fencing. Trump has requested another $1.6 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, but this has not yet been finalized. In these comments, Trump also added a third “billion-three” that does not exist.

”What we’re building is incredible. We’re building a lot of wall right now. We’re renovating wall and we’re building wall, and we’re going to continue to build wall, regardless of what happens with this committee, which I say is a waste of time.” And: “Well, we’re building the wall now. Yeah, we’re building the wall. People don’t understand that, I’m starting to learn.” And: “We’re spending a lot of money that we have on hand. It’s like in a business, but we have money on hand and we’re building — I would say we will have 115 miles of wall, maybe a little bit more than that, very shortly. It’s being built. Some of it has already been completed. And in San Diego, if you look, it’s been completed. It’s really beautiful. Brand new.” And: “We have other wall that’s under construction and we’re giving out a lot of contracts. So we’re building the wall. It’s getting built one way or the other.” And: “We are doing things right now. I mean, we’re building it with funds that are on hand. We’re negotiating very tough prices.” And: “We have to have a very strong barrier. But we’re building a lot of wall right now, as we speak. And we’re renovating a lot of wall. And we’re getting ready to give out some very big contracts with money that we have on hand and money that comes in.” And: “So, we’re building the wall. A lot of it is — I mean, the chant now should be, ;finish the wall” as opposed to “build the wall,” because we’re building a lot of wall. And I started this six months ago. We really started going to town because I could see we were getting nowhere with the Democrats. We’re not going to get anywhere with them. It’s going be a part of their campaign, but I don’t think it’s good politically.” And: “We have a great system. A great wall system. It’s very uniform. They used to have all these different systems; nobody knew what was going on. We have a very good, solid system that looks good and is very powerful, as a wall.” And: “So we’re building a lot of it. We’ll be up to about 115 miles of wall — some renovated, some new.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started. It is true that some existing barriers have been renovated, but not that new wall has been built. In San Diego, for example, the Union-Tribune reported in June 2018: “Construction began Friday just east of Border Field State Park to replace one of San Diego’s barriers along a 14-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Customs and Border Protection.” The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump had long proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction. (It is getting more complicated to fact-check Trump’s claims about a “wall,” since the definitions changed in late 2018 and early 2019: Trump began promoting new steel fences as a possible part of “the wall,” though he had previously dismissed non-concrete structures as something different, while Democrats have begun opposing new steel fences as “wall,” though many of them supported such fencing in the past. For now, we will go by the definitions that were being used at the time a decision was made. So, for example, we would not classify the fencing built after the passage of the 2006 Secure Fence Act as “wall,” since that is not how it was described when Congress approved it. However, since Trump and Democrats are both describing his proposals for additional fencing as part of his wall, we will classify that as part of his wall if it is ever built.)

”In fiscal year 2018, ICE made more than 1,500 human trafficking arrests, with 97 per cent of that for sex trafficking. And it’s a big movement now because of the Super Bowl, if you can believe this. They are bringing in a lot of women through the southern border for the Super Bowl.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: Though local and federal law enforcement announced human trafficking arrests in the lead-up to the Atlanta Super Bowl and soon afterward, they said nothing about women being brought in from Mexico for exploitation related to the game; they made no suggestion that the victims of these traffickers were brought in from Mexico at all. (Many trafficking victims are Americans who are trafficked domestically.) We will amend or delete this item if evidence fo

“Human trafficking by airplane is almost impossible. Human trafficking by van and truck, in the backseat of a car, and going through a border where there’s nobody for miles and miles, and there’s no wall to protect — it’s very easy.”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: Human trafficking by airplane is far from impossible. The U.S. government believes it is such an issue that it has made a broad effort to train people who work at airports, and some airports have put up signs instructing people how they might be able to spot signs of trafficking. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017: “Congress included a requirement in FAA authorization last year that airlines train flight attendants in human trafficking. A short online training program created by the Homeland Security and Transportation departments meets the requirement. The government’s Blue Lightning Initiative even has a version of the training for the traveling public. Several carriers are doing more. Delta started training employees in 2013 and so far has educated 54,000 of 80,000 on human trafficking. Last year the airline broadened its effort, using more extensive training, supporting anti-trafficking organizations and deciding to educate customers.”

 

”We’re here to directly, from members of law enforcement, hear what they have to say, and battling the scourge of human trafficking on our southern border and all across our nation. Much of it comes — in fact, most of it comes — some people would say almost all of it — from the southern border, which we can stop very easily. This is not something you can go through points of entry. You can’t just say that you have three people in a car and bound up and all sorts of problems, and you can’t go through a port of entry, obviously. They go through areas where we don’t have a wall.” And: “You heard today about human trafficking. Human trafficking can go down by a tremendous percentage if we had a wall on our southern border. Tremendous. Because it’s very hard to do human trafficking through ports of entry because you have people standing there, looking. And they say, ‘Hey, what’s going on in the backseat? What’s going on in the trunk?’ They check these things. So they come in through areas where you don’t have the barriers. And we’re not going to let that happen. ”

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: Numerous experts in human trafficking said a border wall would not come close to stopping human trafficking even specifically with regard to the Mexican border — because, contrary to Trump’s claim, even people who do cross from Mexico often come to the U.S. through legal ports of entry, on visas, after being deceived into thinking they are coming to a good job or loving relationship in the U.S. “It is far easier to lure victims with false promises of a better life in the United States,” said Martina Vandenberg, president of the Human Trafficking Legal Center. “Why kidnap someone when you can convince them to travel willingly?” The experts said that it is possible that women are sometimes “bound up” and taken across the border, but five of them told the Star that they have not encountered any cases in which women were transported to the U.S. as Trump has regularly described. “Either he’s watching action films or he’s watching some other type of movie that involves handcuffs and tape over people’s mouths. But in neither case is it based in any reality of what individuals helping trafficking victims see,” said Lori Cohen, director of the Anti-Trafficking initiative at Sanctuary for Families, a New York advocate and service provider for sex trafficking victims. “His depiction of human trafficking is practically unrecognizable to those of us who have spent decades in the trenches combating these abuses,” said Vandenberg.

Source: Meeting on human trafficking

in fact: No expert would say anywhere close to “almost all” human trafficking comes over the southern border. Experts emphasized to the Star that a large percentage of victims are U.S. citizens who are trafficked in the U.S. In its 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, Trump’s State Department noted that most of the victims assisted by government money were not illegal immigrants: “DOJ’s grantees reported that 66 per cent of clients served during the reporting period were U.S. citizens or LPRs (lawful permanent residents).” The Department of Justice said in another report: “Most human-trafficking defendants charged in U.S. district court in 2015 were white (57%), followed by black (24%) and Hispanic defendants (17%).” While race and ethnicity is not the same as nationality, all of the available data makes clear that trafficking is a major homegrown problem as well as a cross-border problem.

 

Feb 3, 2019

 

“But you know it’s very expensive to keep troops there. You do know that. We have 40,000 troops in South Korea, it’s very expensive. But I have no plans, I’ve never even discussed removing them.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: The U.S. had 25,813 active duty troops in South Korea and 28,823 military personnel there in total as of Sept. 30, 2018, according to the latest report from the military’s Defense Manpower Data Center.

 

“Even the Mueller report said it had nothing to do with the campaign. When you look at some of the people and the events it had nothing to do…”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: There is no “Mueller report” yet, though he has laid out various allegations in the documents he has filed in specific court cases.

 

“It’s a terrible witch hunt and it’s a disgrace…when you look at General Flynn where the FBI said he wasn’t lying, but Robert Mueller said he was, and they took a man and destroyed his life.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Bren

in fact: The Associated Press reported: “That’s not what the FBI said. And Flynn and prosecutors agree he lied to the FBI. The claim picked up steam after Republicans on the House intelligence committee issued a report this year that said Comey, in a private briefing, said that the agents who interviewed Flynn ‘discerned no physical indications of deception’ and saw ‘nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them.’ But Comey described that description as a ‘garble’ in a private interview with House lawmakers last week. ‘What I recall telling the House Intelligence Committee is that the agents observed none of the common indicia of lying — physical manifestations, changes in tone, changes in pace — that would indicate the person I’m interviewing knows they’re telling me stuff that ain’t true,’ Comey said. ‘They didn’t see that here. It was a natural conversation, answered fully their questions, didn’t avoid. That notwithstanding, they concluded he was lying.’”

Question: “But when it comes to the investigation that the special counsel’s conducting — I mean 34 people have been charged here. Seven guilty pleas…” Trump: “Excuse me. OK, you ready? OK, you ready? Of the 34 people, many of them were bloggers from Moscow or they were people that had nothing to do with me, had nothing to do with what they’re talking about or there were people that got caught telling a fib or telling a lie.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: No “bloggers from Moscow” have been charged by special counsel Robert Mueller. He has charged alleged hackers, allegedly working for Russia’s military intelligence service, and people alleged to be internet trolls who attempted to manipulate Americans’ opinions through social media posts under fictitious identities. None of these people can accurately be described as bloggers. The Associated Press reported: “According to Mueller’s indictment last February, 13 Russians and three Russian entities are accused of attempting to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton by running a hidden social media trolling campaign and seeking to mobilize Trump supporters at rallies while posing as American political activists. The indictment says the surreptitious campaign was organized by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm financed by companies controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman with ties to President Vladimir Putin. Mueller’s team also charged 12 Russian military intelligence officers in July with hacking into the Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic Party and releasing tens of thousands of private communications.”

 

“The African-Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Asian-Americans the best in the history of our country. You look at women, the best in 61 years. And our employment numbers are phenomenal, the best in over 50 years.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: Though Trump said “employment,” this was a clear reference to his usual boast about the unemployment rate, which hit a 49-year low in September 2018. The claim had become untrue by the time Trump spoke here. The rate for January 2019 was 4.0 per cent, lowest since 2000, or 18 years prior, if you don’t count earlier periods of Trump’s presidency.

 

“The African-Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Asian-Americans the best in the history of our country. You look at women, the best in 61 years.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: Though Trump said “employment,” this was a clear reference to his usual boast about the low unemployment rate for women. In May 2018, the rate did indeed set a 60-plus-year record: the rate of 3.6 per cent was the lowest since late 1953. By the time Trump spoke here, however, the rate had increased to 3.9 per cent, higher than the 3.8 per cent of December 2000, just 18 years prior.

Trump: “Like with General Mattis, I wasn’t happy with his service. I told him, ‘Give me a letter.’” Question: “He resigned.” Trump: “He resigned because I asked him to resign. He resigned because I was very nice to him.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: Mattis resigned as Trump’s defence secretary, which has been widely reported; there is no evidence that Trump demanded a resignation letter to essentially fire Mattis. (Trump initially said on Twitter that Mattis “will be retiring, with distinction. Trump changed his public tune after Mattis released a resignation letter in which he was critical of Trump.)

“I have intel people, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree. President Bush had intel people that said Saddam Hussein in Iraq had nuclear weapons — had all sorts of weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? Those intel people didn’t know what the hell they were doing, and they got us tied up in a war that we should have never been in. And we’ve spent $7 trillion in the Middle East and we have lost lives…”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: Some observers argued that Trump had the Iraq-related problem backward: the chief issue, they said, was not the incompetence of George W. Bush’s intelligence officials; it was that Bush’s political team cherry-picked intelligence to fit its own policy goal, an invasion of Iraq, and applied pressure to U.S. intelligence agencies to find ways to justify their intended decision.(Nicholas Miller, a Dartmouth College government professor who studies nuclear issues, said on Twitter: “Trump says he doesn’t trust the IC (intelligence community) on Iran because they were wrong on Iraq. But the lesson of Iraq isn’t that the IC is always wrong: it’s that the White House shouldn’t distort evidence and pressure the IC to support its policy. This is exactly what Trump is now doing on Iran.”) However, there were also problems with the intelligence officials and with some of the intelligence, so we cannot call this part of Trump’s claim false. What we can say: there is no basis for the “$7 trillion” figure. During the 2016 campaign, Trump cited a $6 trillion estimate that appeared to be taken from a 2013 report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. (That report estimated $2 trillion in costs up to that point but said the total could rise an additional $4 trillion by 2053.) Trump, however, used the $6 trillion as if it was a current 2016 figure. He later explained that since additional time has elapsed since the campaign, he believes the total is now $7 trillion. That is incorrect. The latest Brown report, issued in November 2018, put the current total at $4.9 trillion, and the current total including estimated future health care obligations at $5.9 trillion.

“When President Obama pulled out of Iraq in theory we had Iraq. In other words, we had Iraq. We never had Syria because President Obama never wanted to violate the red line in the sand. So we never had Syria. I was the one that actually violated the red line when I hit Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles, if you remember. But President Obama chose not to do that. When he chose not to do that, he showed tremendous weakness. But we didn’t have Syria whereas we had Iraq.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: It is possible to make Trump’s statement more factual by replacing the words “violate” and “violated” with “enforce” and “enforced,” but as is, it is worded so oddly that we’re counting it as inaccurate. Trump seemed to misunderstand what the “red line” was. It was this: Obama’s statement in 2012 that “we have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized…We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly.” Republicans, including Trump, have previously faulted Obama for declining to forcefully respond when Assad did indeed use chemical weapons. In other words, they faulted Obama for declining to enforce his red line; it was not the case that Obama “never wanted to violate” the red line. Similarly, when Trump launched strikes against Syria, he was not “the one that actually violated the red line”; he could argue he was the one who actually enforced the red line.

“We have been in Afghanistan for 19 years.” And: “We’ve been fighting for 19 years. Somebody said ‘you were precipitously bringing to’ — precipitously? We’ve been there for 19 years.” And: ““We’ve been there for 19 years, almost, we are fighting very well. We’re fighting harder than ever before.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: The war in Afghanistan had lasted 17 years and 4 months at the time Trump spoke.

“We were supposed to be in Syria for four months. We’ve been there for years.”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: Steven Heydemann, director of the Middle East Studies program at Smith College, said Trump is “clearly wrong” that the U.S. military presence in Syria was originally supposed to last four months: “There has never been a timetable attached to the U.S. presence.” While both the Obama and Trump administrations claimed the mission was limited in duration, tied to the defeat of ISIS, “it was never defined as limited to a period of a few months.”

“She (Nancy Pelosi) knows that we need border security. She wanted to win a political point. I happen to think it’s very bad politics because basically she wants open borders. She doesn’t mind human trafficking or she wouldn’t do this because you know…”

Source: Super Bowl interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan

in fact: Pelosi does not support “open borders.” She has endorsed, and offered funding for, various kinds of border security measures, just not Trump’s wall. (Trump’s interviewer, Margaret Brennan, reminded him, “She offered you over a billion dollars for border security.”)

 

Trump Says ISIS Is Defeated. He Is Ignoring the Bigger Picture

February 8, 2019

by Patrick Cockburn

The Unz Review

President Trump says that in the coming week the US and its allies will announce that they have captured all of the land previously controlled by Isis. He claims that US-led forces “have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by Isis in Syria and Iraq … we will have 100 per cent of the caliphate.“

The prediction has sparked a sterile and misleading debate about whether or not Isis is finally defeated, something which will remain unproven since the movement is unlikely to run up a white flag and sign terms of surrender. The discussion has – like all debates about foreign policy in the US – very little to do with the real situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq and everything to do with the forces at play in Washington politics.

In discussing the demise or survival of Isis, pundits make the same glaring omission. They ignore the fact that by far the largest stronghold in Syria held by an al-Qaeda type group is not the few shattered villages for which Isis has been battling in the east of the country. Much more important is the jihadi enclave in and around Idlib province in north-west Syria which is held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Liberation of Levant Organisation), a powerful breakaway faction from Isis which founded the group under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra in 2011 and with whom it shares the same fanatical beliefs and military tactics. Its leaders wear suicide vests studded with metal balls just like their Isis equivalents.

It is not that the US has any doubts about what HTS is – since last year, a foreign terrorist organisation despite a name change. Nathan A Sales, the State Department’s coordinator of counterterrorism, noted that “today’s designation serves notice that the United States is not fooled by this al-Qaeda affiliate’s attempt to rebrand itself.”

Over the past year HTS has expanded its control to almost all of the Idlib enclave, which the UN estimates to have a population of three million, half of whom are refugees, and can put at least 50,000 fighters into the field. The zone is surrounded on three sides by the Syrian Army backed by the Russians and on the fourth side it shares a common border with Turkey whose local proxies it has crushed. Fighting between Assad government forces and the armed opposition in Idlib has largely died away under the terms of a shaky ceasefire agreed and enforced by Moscow  and Ankara.

Blindness in the west to this embattled al-Qaeda-run mini-state, which has a population the same size as Wales and a fighting force not much smaller than the British army, is explained by the fact that such an admission would reveal that the US and its allies are weak players in Syria and there is more than one jihadi group in the country. A recurrent and disastrous theme of western involvement in the war in Syria is for governments and media to focus only on part of the multilayered crisis in which they are engaged.

Pretending that Isis is anything close to the potent threat it used to be is part of the struggle between Trump and the foreign policy and security establishment in Washington. They represent what President Obama derided as “the Washington playbook” which he denounced as always looking to military solutions and always overplaying its hand in fighting wars that never end.

This skewed vision of the Syrian conflict – with its over-emphasis on whether or not the death certificate of the caliphate should be formally signed – diverts attention from a more important question. In the short term, it is true that can Isis carry out guerrilla and terrorist attacks, but for all practical purposes Trump is right in saying that it has been decisively defeated. The caliphate that once ruled a de facto state the size of Great Britain with a population of eight million is gone.

A more important question to ask now is how far the whole al-Qaeda idea and mode of operating have become obsolete and discredited. Not so long ago, this militarised cult of extreme fanaticism with core beliefs derived from the Wahhabi version of Islam was extraordinarily successful. Suicide bombing on an industrial scale enabled it to turn untrained but committed believers into a devastating military weapon.

Suicide attacks as an expression of Islamic faith produced 9/11, which was the most successful terrorist attack in history: the overwhelming impact of the destruction of the Twin Towers provoked the US to jump into a trap of its own making by launching wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, which had scarcely existed as an international organisation before 9/11, instantly took advantage of this overreaction. The US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003 enabled the local al-Qaeda franchise to became the core of the armed resistance of the Sunni Arabs against their enemies at home and abroad.

Can these conditions be recreated in Idlib or in the deserts of western Iraq, eastern Syria or wherever else al-Qaeda type groups have their hideouts from Pakistan to Nigeria  and Chechnya to Somalia? A ferociously disciplined group with experienced military leaders will always have an influence out of proportion to its size in chaotic war-time conditions.

But al-Qaeda and its clones should not be allowed to remain a bugbear, a cause of obsessive fear because of its past successes in staging 9/11, dominating the armed opposition in Iraq in 2004-09, and unexpectedly resurrecting itself in Syria and Iraq after 2011.

It once was able to offer miraculous victories to its followers but for the past few years it has been able to offer them nothing but defeat and martyrdom for a cause that has been failing demonstrably.

The al-Qaeda formula worked because it caught its enemies by surprise and this will not happen again. Early successes after 2003 required a degree of covert assistance or tolerance from Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, all of whom imagined at different moments that they could channel or manipulate the jihadis into acting in their own interest.

Al-Qaeda operated through fear and fanaticism but it also required a constituency among the Sunni Arabs of Iraq and Syria which no longer exists; and for which the Sunni have paid a terrible price in the form of lost wars and devastated cities from east Aleppo  to Raqqa and Mosul.

Al-Qaeda no longer works as a winning formula, but this does not mean that its destructive capacity is exhausted. Its track record of savagery was such that its limited attacks can still provoke almost unlimited terror among potential victims. I was in Baghdad  last year when Isis kidnapped and killed some half dozen police on the main road north to Kirkuk, provoking a wave of fear out of proportion to what had happened among my friends who started to recall past massacres by Isis.

Casual remarks by Trump such as saying that the US might keep troops in Iraq in future to watch Iran will continue to keep the pot boiling which is to the advantage of al-Qaeda. But the all-conquering warrior cult whose columns of fanatical fighters were wining Napoleonic victories in 2014-15 has gone for good and cannot be recreated

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

February 12, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication

Conversation No. 118

Date: Tuesday, December 16,  1997

Commenced:  1:17 PM CST

Concluded: 1:50 PM CST

 

RTC:  It really is amazing, Gregory, the number of my old friends, and I put quotes around that phrase, who somehow forget to call me or stop by.

GD: But you aren’t in power any more, Robert, are you? The moment you left the CIA, they forgot about you and rushed to embrace your successor. It’s always been that way. Some person asked me recently how they could be more popular and have more friends.

RTC: And you told them…?

GD: Why, I said to tell everyone their uncle Waldo had died and the lawyers said they inherited all of his estate. I said that this ought to be a hundred thousand dollars or more. Then, I said, they would flock to your door, waving their hands and reminding you they had shared a sandwich with you in Kindergarten. Oh yes, armies of the eager, the worshipful, seeking the warmth of your presence and hopeful of your generosity. There is the matter of little Timmy and his earwax problem. The doctors said that after the delicate operation, Timmy could hear again. Of course all it would really take to clean out the wax and the spiderwebs would be a five dollar little bulb with a bit of liquid, available from any drug store for less than ten dollars, but no, according to your new friends, a delicate operation. Possibly at the Mayo Clinic. Modestly turned down eyes and a brief, tragic, snort into a handkerchief while thinking of poor, deaf, Timmy once again able to hear the morning song of the birdies or his Grandma’s cries of pain as she sits down on Timmy’s toy fire engine on the couch. And just think, Robert, you could prevent all of that and bring joy into their home once again!

RTC: Joy who, Gregory?

GD: Joy Pavelic, the social worker, Robert. The one who comes by to make sure they are feeding little Timmy. Social workers do not approve of feeding deaf little angels on a diet of moldy cat food. And as others join in the chorus of supplications, and as your bank account shrinks accordingly, so also does your popularity. And when the account is empty, your front porch is also empty again and the horde of leeches is seen scampering down the street to the home of the next inheritor.

RTC: Are people really that obvious? Yes, they are. Greedy and stupid.

GD: Don’t forget vicious while you’re at it.

RTC: If Hitler had done away with idiots, eastern Europe would be a desert. My God, as a Chicago boy, I learned to love the Polacks, believe me.

GD: You heard about the Russian woman who recently gave birth to a wooden baby?

RTC: No, actually I didn’t. Won’t you tell me?

GD: Certainly. She had been raped by a Pole.

RTC: (laughter) Point well taken.

GD: And Hitler never did away with people.

RTC: The Jews certainly want you to believe he did.

GD: Do you know how Hitler actually died? No? He had a heart attack when he got the gas bill.

RTC: (laughter) Well, after all, didn’t they gas a hundred million Jews?

GD: Of course they did. And they also got the cats and the parrots at the same time.

GD: Out in LA, in a really expensive art gallery in Beverly Hills, I can just her some old cow braying to her husband, ‘Myron, let’s buy the Picasso. It matches the drapes.’

RTC: The art market is pretty much filled with phonies.

GD: Oh my God, it is. Jackson Pollack used to get up on a ladder with cans of paint, toss the contents all over a big canvas he spread out on the floor of his garage and then the paint dribblings dried, cut up the canvas and made many pictures out of it. Jesus, the idiot people actually pay money for them. Their taste is obviously up their ass along with a dead baby, a beach sandal and two cans of sauerkraut.

RTC: But the art dealers must be happy.

GD: Yes, and rich.

RTC: Gregory, when you are n Washington, be careful with anti Jewish remarks. The city is packed with Hebrews.

GD: So is Beverly Hills.

RTC: No, they have power there so watch what you say. It never used to be that way but ever since Roosevelt’s long reign, the Hebrews have made a home inside the Beltway. And don’t forget that Roosevelt himself was Jewish. His biographers, most of whom are also Hebrews, speak of an aristocratic Dutch background but Franklin’s forebears came from Holland second. In Germany, where they had been living in the Rhineland, they were the Rosenfeld familiy and then when they ran to Holland with the local police after them, they changed the name to ‘Roosevelt.’ That name is not Dutch and when one of them came to New Amsterdam, he married a Samuels whose papa was in the fur trade. Why when old Franklin croaked in ’45, he had a cousin who was an Orthodox rabbi. And the Delano famlly were Italian Jews. And Franklin’s material grandfather was an opium smuggler.

GD: But Eleanor was of the same family.

RTC: Oh Jesus, don’t bring up that ugly old dyke. Crazy as a bedbug and had a face that would curdle milk.

GD: My, the Jews must have had a field day then.

RTC: Oh, they did indeed. Franklin’s top people were either rabid Jews or Communist spies. Or both. Why Harry Hopkins and Wallace were both taking money from Joe Stalin. And Morgenthau and Harry White were out to kill all the Germans and turn the country over to Stalin.

GD: Quite a few Jewish spies, weren’t there?

RTC: Many.

GD: Would you consider them traitors, Robert?

RTC: They should have hung the lot of them from trees in Rock Creek park when Franklin hit the floor.

 

(Concluded at 1:50 PM CST)

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

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