Fact Check: Trump Sounds Off-Key Notes on Economy, Phone Calls to Fallen Soldiers' Families - NBC 7 San Diego
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President Donald Trump

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Fact Check: Trump Sounds Off-Key Notes on Economy, Phone Calls to Fallen Soldiers' Families

According to a Gallup poll in September that asked respondents to name the nation's most important problem, just 2 percent cited taxes

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    Congress Focuses on Tax Reform With Thanksgiving Deadline

    Congress is back this week with a Thanksgiving deadline to overhaul how America pays taxes - something that hasn't been done in over 30 years. (Published Monday, Oct. 23, 2017)

    President Donald Trump is sounding an off-key note on his economic performance and perhaps overstating how much the public wants his tax package.

    A look at some of his statements about the economy over the weekend and a rash of misstatements on a variety of topics over the past week:

    TRUMP on economic growth: "In the last quarter we (hit) 3.2 (percent). As you know the previous administration didn't hit it for the year for 8 years. In eight years didn't hit it at all." — Fox Business interview, broadcast Sunday.

    THE FACTS: It's not true that President Barack Obama "didn't hit it at all." The economy expanded at 3 percent annual rate or better for eight quarters during Obama's right years in office. It's true the economy never grew by more than 3 percent for a full calendar year under Obama. That hasn't happened since 2005. It is unlikely to happen this year, either.

    Trump Responds to Putin Summit Criticism

    [NATL] Trump Responds to Putin Summit Criticism

    President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he misspoke during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Trump said he does "accept" the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Trump also said he needed to clarify that he didn't see a reason why the meddling "wouldn't be Russia." Trump had said the opposite a day earlier, prompting bipartisan backlash.

    (Published Tuesday, July 17, 2018)

    Trump also misstated his own record. The economy expanded 3.1 percent in the April-June quarter, rather than the 3.2 percent cited by Trump.

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    TRUMP: "So there's a great spirit for it, people want to see it, and I call it tax cuts.  It is tax reform also ... And I think that there's tremendous appetite." — Fox Business interview.

    THE FACTS: There may not be as much hunger for the tax package as he argues. Recent polls suggest it's a relatively low priority for the U.S. public.

    According to a Gallup poll in September that asked respondents to name the nation's most important problem, just 2 percent cited taxes. The top problems were "dissatisfaction with government," mentioned by 18 percent, and "race relations/racism," named by 12 percent, followed by immigration at 11 percent.

    An April survey by the Pew Research Center found that 54 percent Americans say they pay about the right amount in taxes, while 40 percent say they pay more than their fair share.

    Did Trump Deny Russia Is Still Targeting US? New Dispute Over ‘No’

    [NATL] Did Trump Deny Russia Is Still Targeting US? New Dispute Over ‘No’

    Asked at the White House if Russia is still targeting the United States, President Donald Trump appeared to say “no.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later that Trump was saying “no” to answering questions.

    (Published Wednesday, July 18, 2018)

    The president's plan calls for cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. But an April Gallup poll found that two-thirds of Americans think corporations pay too little in taxes.

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    TRUMP: "If Congress comes together to enact this commonsense plan, the Council of Economic Advisers estimates that it will raise the annual income of a typical, hardworking American household by an average of around $4,000." — from an opinion piece under Trump's byline in USA Today, Sunday.

    THE FACTS: That is what his White House Council of Economic Advisers predicts, but the conclusion is strongly disputed by many economists. It is based on the idea that overall incomes would rise $504 billion as a result of his proposed tax cuts. To put that in perspective, that's $200 billion more than the total revenue generated by the corporate income tax.

    The prediction also assumes that most of the benefit from the cut would flow to employees, as businesses use the proceeds to invest in equipment that makes workers more productive. Those more-productive workers could then win higher pay.

    Yet an analysis by Treasury Department economists in 2012 found that roughly three-quarters of the benefit of corporate tax cuts would go to investors in the form of dividend payments or share buybacks.

    Obama Delivers Rebuke on Trump Policies at Mandela Celebration

    [NATL] Obama Delivers Rebuke on Trump Policies at Mandela Celebration

    Former President Barack Obama condemned the current state of American politics while not mentioning President Donald Trump by name during a speech to honor the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

    (Published Tuesday, July 17, 2018)

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    TRUMP on consoling families who have lost loved ones in military service: "I think I've called every family of someone who's died." — interview with Fox News radio, Tuesday.

    THE FACTS: He hasn't. The Associated Press contacted relatives of more than 20 of the 43 people who died in military service since Trump took office in January. Relatives of at least 10 of the fallen said they did not get a call. Some also didn't get a letter.

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    TRUMP, on how past presidents dealt with family members who lost loved ones in military service: "Most of them didn't make calls." Obama might have done so on occasion but "other presidents did not call." — news conference Oct. 1.

    THE FACTS: The recent record is clear: Obama and President George W. Bush made painstaking efforts to contact bereaved military families, and they had many more to deal with than Trump so far in his presidency.

    Trump on Poor Relations With Russia: ‘I Hold Both Countries Responsible’

    [NATL] Trump on Poor Relations With Russia: ‘I Hold Both Countries Responsible’

    President Trump was asked if he held Russia accountable for a decline in relations with the U.S. He said there is blame on both sides.

    (Published Monday, July 16, 2018)

    Bush, even at the height of two wars, "wrote all the families of the fallen," said Freddy Ford, spokesman for the ex-president. Ford said Bush also called or met "hundreds, if not thousands" of family members of the war dead.

    Obama, too, paid plenty of attention to families of the fallen, visiting Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on some occasions when the remains of the dead were brought back to the U.S., inviting Gold Star families to the White House, and meeting, calling or writing to others.

    Veterans groups said neither president shortchanged bereaved military families in offering condolences personally.

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    TRUMP tweet Friday: "Just out report: 'United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.' Not good, we must keep America safe!"

    THE FACTS: Trump misstates the statistics and the reason crime has gone up.

    Trump, Putin News Conference: Watch the Full Q&A

    [NATL] Trump, Putin News Conference: Watch the Full Q&A

    Watch President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin answer questions from reporters following their summit in Helsinki, Finland, on July 17, 2018.

    (Published Monday, July 16, 2018)

    The 13 percent increase cited by Trump refers to crime in England and Wales, not the entire U.K., which also includes Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    The biggest jump in crime reports came from car thefts and shoplifting. Homicides slightly dropped, even with deadly attacks by extremists in London and Manchester.

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    TRUMP on Hurricane Maria's effect on Puerto Rico: "They got hit dead center — if you look at those maps — by a Category 5. Nobody's ever heard of a 5 hitting land. Usually by that time it's dissipated. It hit right through — and kept to a 5 — it hit right through the middle of the island, right through the middle of Puerto Rico." — comments Thursday after a White House meeting with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

    THE FACTS: No, it made landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane, not 5. Though devastating, Maria also did not rake across the island as a Category 5. It weakened, and left the island some seven hours later as barely a Category 3.

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    Trump Says NATO Allies Will Boost Military Spending

    [NATL] Trump Says NATO Allies Will Boost Military Spending

    Speaking to reporters, President Donald Trump said Thursday after a two-day NATO summit in Brussels that it would be "unnecessary" for the U.S. to withdraw from NATO because his allies agreed to boost their military spending.

    (Published Thursday, July 12, 2018)

    TRUMP: "We keep being given credit. You know, it's very nice that the gentleman who worked for Bill Clinton, when he was president, gave us an A-plus. And that included Puerto Rico. Gave us an A-plus. And I thought that was really very nice. And I think — I really believe he's correct. We have done a really great job." — comments after Rossello meeting.

    THE FACTS: No, Trump did not get an A-plus for his Puerto Rico response from the Clinton-era administration emergency chief cited by Trump, James Lee Witt. But it's understandable that he thought so. Published reports suggested Witt had given the Trump administration top grades for its actions in all three monster storms — Harvey, Irma and Maria.

    But Witt told AP he did not assign a grade to the Maria response because it's too soon. It could end up being an A, F or grade in between, he said.

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    TRUMP: "The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!" — tweet Thursday

    CHIEF OF STAFF JOHN KELLY: "It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred." — briefing Thursday.

    Fiery Hearing From FBI Agent Who Made Anti-Trump Texts

    [NATL] FBI Agent Who Made Anti-Trump Texts Testifies in Fiery Congressional Hearing

    Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who made anti-Trump texts during the 2016 presidential election, rejected claims of bias affecting his work with the Clinton email probe in a fiery speech to Congress. GOP and Democratic lawmakers added to the tense hearing, frequently arguing over Strzok's testimony.

    (Published Thursday, July 12, 2018)

    THE FACTS: The suggestion that Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson eavesdropped for nefarious purposes on Trump's call to a war widow is problematic, at best.

    She's indeed been scathing about Trump's behavior on the phone with Myeshia Johnson, wife of Sgt. La David Johnson, killed early this month in an ambush in Niger. Three other U.S. soldiers also died.

    What Trump said — and how he said it — is in dispute. But Wilson is a friend of the family and was with the widow and the aunt and uncle who raised the soldier as a boy when the call arrived. The family members and Wilson were in a car and the call was placed on speakerphone. Meantime, Kelly and several others at the White House listened from their end to what Trump said was a "very personal call."

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    KELLY, on a 2015 building dedication ceremony at which he said Wilson stood and talked about herself: "And a congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down. And we were stunned, stunned that she'd done it." — briefing Thursday.

    THE FACTS: That's not what happened. In video of the ceremony, the Democratic congresswoman never takes credit for getting the government to pay for the building. The project was approved before she came to Congress. She spent up to three minutes of her nine-minute remarks talking about her drive to have the building named after two slain FBI agents, and about the Republican lawmakers and others who rallied to that cause and made it happen quickly.

    'Captive to Russia': Trump Attacks Germany Over Gas Ties

    [NATL] 'Captive to Russia': Trump Attacks Germany Over Russia Gas Ties, NATO Defense Spending

    President Donald Trump criticized Germany for its gas ties to Russia at the start of his NATO visit, calling Germany "captive to Russia" over its Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Trump, whose campaign is under investigation for possible ties to the Kremlin, claimed the deal was "inappropriate" in an exchange with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

    (Published Wednesday, July 11, 2018)

    Kelly, who lost his Marine son Robert in Afghanistan in 2010, was furious about Wilson's criticisms of Trump's phone call.

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    TRUMP, on his judicial nominees: "The Democrats are holding them up beyond anything. Beyond comprehension, they're holding them up." — news conference Oct. 16.

    THE FACTS: Not "beyond anything." He's had more judges confirmed than Barack Obama did in the same period as his presidency, and his numbers aren't far off those of other recent presidents.

    He actually has a leg up in the process because in 2013, then-majority Democrats changed Senate rules so judicial nominations for trial and appeals courts can be approved with only 51 Senate votes, a simple majority. Republicans currently hold 52 seats.

    Seven of Trump's judicial nominees have been confirmed by the Senate. According to federal statistics, Obama had three judicial nominees confirmed at the same point of his presidency, just shy of nine months. President George H.W. Bush had four confirmed. Other recent presidents had more confirmed: eight for George W. Bush, nine for Clinton, 13 for Ronald Reagan.

    Senate Readies Over Supreme Court Confirmation Fight

    [NATL] Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court as Senate Readies Over Confirmation Fight

    Focus shifts from President Trump's announcement of Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee, to the Senate's knock-down, drag-out fight over his confirmation. The Republicans' razor-thin majority won't matter if they can work together, but they may need help from red-state Democrats.

    (Published Tuesday, July 10, 2018)

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    TRUMP calls his tax overhaul the "largest tax cut in the history of our nation." — news conference Oct. 16.

    THE FACTS: His tax plan is, at most, fifth largest in its estimated cost, says Marc Goldwein of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. It could end up being even lower on the ladder historically.

    The estimated cost of the tax plan has dropped by half or more since the spring, when only the contours were known. In an analysis in April, Goldwein's group found that the $5.5 trillion plan that was then expected would have been the third largest since 1940 as a share of gross domestic product, behind Reagan's package in 1981 and tax cuts enacted in 1945 to phase out revenue generated for World War II. But, citing estimated costs of $1.5 trillion to $2.5 trillion for Trump's plan now, Goldwein said several other historically significant tax cuts also would surpass Trump's: from 2013 and 1964.

    Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Jessica Gresko and Seth Borenstein in Washington, Danica Kirka in London and Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.