Fact Check; Trump lies about cease fire and more

Turkish soldiers stand in attention during a ceremony for soldier Sefa Findik, killed in action with Kurdish fighters in Syria earlier Sunday, during a ceremony at the airport in Sanliurfa southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019.It brings Turkey’s military death toll up to seven soldiers in its wide-ranging offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

As President Donald Trump describes it, the U.S. swooped into an intractable situation in the Middle East, achieved an agreement within hours that had eluded the world for years and delivered a “great day for civilization.”

It was a mission-accomplished moment that other Republican leaders, Democrats and much of the world found unconvincing.

Trump spent much of the past week trying to justify his decision to pull U.S. troops away from America’s Kurdish allies in Syria, leaving those Kurdish fighters vulnerable on several fronts and already reeling from attacks by Turkish forces.

In the process, Trump exaggerated the scope of a deal bringing a temporary cease-fire to Turkish-Kurdish hostilities, falsely suggested that U.S. troops in Syria will come home and mischaracterized the history of the conflict and even the geography of it.

A look at his rhetoric on that topic and other subjects over the past week as well as a sampling of statements from the latest Democratic presidential debate:

SYRIA

TRUMP: “It’s time to bring our soldiers back home.” — news conference Wednesday.

THE FACTS: That’s not what he’s doing.

While the U.S. has begun what the Pentagon calls a deliberate withdrawal of troops from Syria, Trump himself has said that the 200 to 300 U.S. service members deployed to a southern Syria outpost in Al-Tanf will remain there.

And on Saturday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the current plan calls for all U.S. troops who are leaving Syria to go to western Iraq, not home. They number more than 700.

Asked Sunday why troops weren’t coming home as Trump said they would, his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said: “Well, they will eventually.”

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TRUMP: “This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this ’Deal” for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!” — tweet Thursday.

TRUMP: “A lot of things are in that agreement that nobody ever thought possible.” — remarks at Dallas rally Thursday.

THE FACTS: The agreement he is hailing is not nearly as consequential to the prospects for peace as he claims. It provides for a five-day cease-fire in the Turks’ deadly attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, which began after Trump announced he would withdraw U.S. troops.

The agreement requires the Kurds to vacate a swath of territory in Syria along the Turkish border in an arrangement that codifies nearly all of Turkey’s stated goals in the conflict and relieves it of U.S. sanctions.

It imposes no apparent long-term consequences for Turkey’s move against the Kurds, important U.S. partners in the fight against the Islamic State group. Trump calls that fight a mission accomplished despite the U.S. officials’ fears of an IS resurgence.

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TRUMP, on the Syrian areas of Turkish-Kurdish conflict: “It’s a lot of sand. They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.” — remarks Wednesday.

THE FACTS: The area of conflict is not known for being particularly sandy. In contrast to Trump’s imagery of arid, worthless land that other countries — not the U.S. — should fight over, it’s actually the breadbasket of Syria.

The area is part of what was historically known as the Fertile Crescent, where settled farming and early civilizations first began.

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TRUMP: “We were supposed to be in Syria for one month. That was 10 years ago.” — news conference Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Previous administrations never set a one-month timeline for U.S. involvement in Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes on Islamic State militants in Syria in September 2014. About a year later, the Pentagon said teams of special operations forces began going into Syria to conduct raids and start efforts to partner with the Kurdish forces.

Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter made it clear to Congress at that time that the Pentagon was ready to expand operations with the Kurds and would continue to do so as needed to battle IS, without setting a specific deadline.

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TRUMP: “Our soldiers are mostly gone from the area.” — news conference Wednesday.

THE FACTS: They’re mostly still there.

Close to 30 U.S. troops moved out of two outposts near the border area where the Turkish attack was initially centered. But the bulk of the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops deployed to Syria are still in the country.

According to officials, most of the U.S. troops have largely been consolidated into a few locations in the north, including an airfield facility in the western part of the country known as the Kobani landing zone. A couple hundred have left in recent days with military equipment, and officials say the withdrawal will take weeks.

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JOE BIDEN: “I would not have withdrawn the troops, and I would not have withdrawn the additional 1,000 troops that are in Iraq, which are in retreat now, being fired on by Assad’s people.” — Democratic debate on Tuesday.

THE FACTS: The former vice president is wrong. There is no evidence that any of the approximately 1,000 American troops preparing to evacuate from Syria have been fired on by Syrian government forces led by President Bashar Assad. A small group of U.S. troops came under Turkish artillery fire near the town of Kobani last week, without anyone being injured, but there is no indication that Syrian troops have shot at withdrawing Americans.

Also, Biden was addressing the situation in Syria, not Iraq.

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WOMEN IN SPACE

TRUMP: “This is the first time for a woman outside of the Space Station. … They’re conducting the first-ever female spacewalk to replace an exterior part of the Space Station.” — speaking to flight engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch outside the International Space Station in a teleconference Friday.

THE FACTS: Meir corrected the record, telling Trump: “First of all, we don’t want to take too much credit, because there have been many other female spacewalkers before us. This is just the first time that there have been two women outside at the same time. ”

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AMMUNITION

TRUMP: “When I first got in, a general told me we could have had a conflict with someone. Said, Sir, we don’t have ammunition. And I said I never want to hear a president — I just never want to hear somebody have that statement made to them again as president of the United States. We don’t have ammunition. Think of how bad. Now we have so much ammunition we don’t know what to do with it.” — Dallas rally Thursday.

THE FACTS: Trump periodically quotes unidentified generals as saying things that he wants to hear and that are hard to imagine them actually having said. This is no exception. The U.S. doesn’t go to war without sufficient ammunition.

At most, budget constraints may have restricted ammunition for certain training exercises at times and held back the development of new forms of firepower. It’s not unusual for generals to want more people and equipment at their disposal than they have. But they don’t run out of bullets.

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ECONOMY and TRADE

TRUMP: “Just out: MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME IS AT THE HIGHEST POINT EVER, EVER, EVER! How about saying it this way, IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY!” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: Another way of saying it is that median household income has been this high before.

Trump also builds his boast on the records of others.

In the Census Bureau’s definitive annual report on income and poverty, it found that median household income in 2018 matched the previous peak of $63,200, in inflation-adjusted dollars, reached in 1999.

While that was a welcome increase after household income fell sharply in the Great Recession, it also suggests that the median American household went back to where it was 19 years ago. (The median is the point where half of households earn more and half earn less).

Household income began rising in 2014, after falling in the aftermath of the recession, and jumped 5.1% in 2015, making its most significance gains in President Barack Obama’s second term.

It grew just 0.9% in 2018, the slowest in three years. The Census Bureau says its data is difficult to compare with previous years because it changed its methods in 2013.

It released a supplemental report showing that, adjusted for those methodological changes, median incomes in 2018 matched those in 1999. A separate census report, which has fewer details on incomes, said last month that median household income has reached a record high, but those data only go back to 2005.

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TRUMP, on a World Trade Organization ruling allowing the U.S. to tax impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European imports annually: “I think the WTO award has been testament to a lot of good work by the Trump administration. We never won with the WTO, or essentially never won. Very seldom did we win. And now we’re winning a lot.” — remarks Wednesday before meeting with Italy’s president.

TRUMP: “We didn’t win anything for years practically. Now we’ve won a lot of cases. You know why? Because they know I’ll leave if they don’t treat us fairly.” — Dallas rally Thursday.

THE FACTS: He’s incorrect to say the U.S. never or rarely got any WTO victories under other presidents.

The U.S. has always had a high success rate when it pursues cases against other countries at the WTO. In 2017, trade analyst Daniel Ikenson of the libertarian Cato Institute found that the U.S. had won 91% of time it brought a complaint that ended up being adjudicated by the Geneva-based trade monitor. True, Ikenson noted, the countries bringing complaints tend to win overwhelmingly. That’s because they don’t bother going to the WTO in the first place if they don’t have a pretty strong case.

The WTO announcement culminated a 15-year fight over EU subsidies for Airbus — a fight that began long before Trump was in office.

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JULIÁN CASTRO: “Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania actually in the latest jobs data have lost jobs, not gained them.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: No. Figures from the Labor Department show that the former Housing and Urban Development secretary is wrong.

Ohio added jobs in August. So did Michigan. Same with Pennsylvania.

So Castro’s statement is off.

These states do still have economic struggles. Pennsylvania has lost factory jobs since the end of 2018. So has Michigan. And Ohio has shed 100 factory jobs so far this year.

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TRUMP: “MORE PEOPLE WORKING TODAY IN THE USA THAN AT ANY TIME IN HISTORY!” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: True, but it’s due to population growth, not just steady hiring.

A more relevant measure is the proportion of Americans with jobs, and that is still far below record highs.

According to Labor Department data , 61% of people in the United States 16 years and older were working in September. That’s below the all-time high of 64.7% in April 2000, though higher than the 59.9% when Trump was inaugurated in January 2017.

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CLIMATE CHANGE

BERNIE SANDERS: “We’re forgetting about the existential threat of climate change.” ″Right now the CEOs in the fossil fuel industry know full well that their product is destroying this world and they continue to make huge profits.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: Earth’s existence and life on the planet will not end because of climate change, as the Vermont senator suggests. Fossil fuels do not have Earth on a path of destruction.

Science says climate change will cause great harm, but it won’t wipe out everything and won’t end humanity.

“It’s an existential threat for many species,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer. “It’s an existential threat for many ecosystems. I don’t think it’s an existential threat for humanity.”

Life will be dramatically altered if the burning of fossil fuels continues unabated, said Oppenheimer, a co-author of many of the most dire international science reports on climate change.

“Existential” has perhaps lost its literal meaning, as politicians in general and Democrats in particular cast many threats as existential ones even when existence is not on the line. In the debate, for example, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker described the closing of two Planned Parenthood clinics in Ohio as an existential threat to abortion rights in America.

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GUN CONTROL

PETE BUTTIGIEG: “On guns, we are this close to an assault weapons ban. That would be huge.” — Democratic debate.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: “I just keep thinking of how close we are to finally getting something done on this.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: No, the U.S. is not close to enacting an assault-weapons ban, as Buttigieg claimed, nor close on any significant gun control, as Klobuchar had it. Congress is not on the verge of such legislation. Prospects for an assault-weapons ban, in particular, are bound to remain slim until the next election at least.

Legislation under discussion in the Senate would expand background checks for gun sales, a politically popular idea even with gun owners. But even that bill has stalled because of opposition from the National Rifle Association and on-again, off-again support from Trump. Democrats and some Republicans in Congress say they will continue to push for the background checks bill, but movement appears unlikely during an impeachment inquiry and general dysfunction in Congress. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has made it clear he won’t move forward on gun legislation without Trump’s strong support.

Buttigieg was citing the chance for an assault-weapons ban as a reason for not supporting the more radical proposal by Democratic presidential rival Beto O’Rourke to force gun owners to give up AR-15s and other assault-style weapons. Klobuchar spoke in a similar context.

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RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

ELIZABETH WARREN: “Mueller had shown to a fare-thee-well that this president obstructed justice.” — Democratic debate.

THE FACTS: That’s not exactly what special counsel Robert Mueller showed.

It’s true that prosecutors examined more than 10 episodes for evidence of obstruction of justice, and that they did illustrate efforts by Trump to stymie the Russia investigation or take control of it.

But ultimately, Mueller did not reach a conclusion as to whether the president obstructed justice or broke any other law. He cited Justice Department policy against the indictment of a sitting president and said that since he could not bring charges against Trump, it was unfair to accuse him of a crime. There was no definitive finding that he obstructed justice.

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Associated Press writers Christopher Rugaber, Seth Borenstein, Josh Boak, Robert Burns, Matthew Daly, Eric Tucker and Paul Wiseman in Washington, Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report.

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As usual, Trump comes up short on facts

With apologies to Netflix.

President Donald Trump muddled the facts Wednesday on America’s withdrawal from Syria and the conditions on the ground there, as he distanced himself and the U.S. from the ongoing Turkish invasion into Syria.

He suggested incorrectly that the Syrian Kurds who fought alongside U.S. forces against the Islamic State group deliberately released IS prisoners and wrongly said Americans have been in the Syria conflict for 10 years.

A look at his claims and the reality:

U.S. INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

TRUMP: “We were supposed to be in Syria for one month. That was 10 years ago.”

THE FACTS: Previous administrations never set a one-month timeline for U.S. involvement in Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes on Islamic State militants in Syria in September 2014. About a year later, the Pentagon said that teams of special operations forces began going into Syria to conduct raids and start up efforts to partner with the Kurdish forces. Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter made it clear to Congress at that time that the Pentagon was ready to expand operations with the Kurds and would continue to do so as needed to battle IS, without setting a specific timeline for completion.

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PRISON RELEASE

TRUMP: Speaking about IS detainees, Trump said: “People let some go. They opened a couple of doors to make us look as bad as possible.” Later he described the IS detainees as “people that probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact.”

THE FACTS: That’s an exaggeration. There is no evidence that Kurdish forces, who fought IS for years with U.S. and coalition troops, deliberately opened prison doors to let militants out.

According to U.S. and defense officials, fewer than 100 prisoners have escaped and Kurdish fighters are still guarding the prisons. Officials say that some of the Kurdish forces have moved north to fight the invading Turks, but many remain to secure the prisons, which hold about 2,000 foreign fighters and another 10,000 Iraqis and Syrians who fought with IS. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe ongoing military operations.

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LEAVING SYRIA

TRUMP: “Our soldiers are mostly gone from the area.”

THE FACTS: They’re actually mostly still there.

Trump is correct that close to 30 U.S. troops moved out of two outposts near the border area where the Turkish attack was initially centered. But the bulk of the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops deployed to Syria are still in the country.

According to officials, most of the U.S. troops have largely been consolidated into two locations in the north, including an airfield facility in the western part of the country known as the Kobani landing zone. A small number of troops left in recent days with military equipment, and more recently the withdrawal of forces began but so far not in large numbers. Officials say the withdrawal will take weeks.

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COMING HOME

TRUMP: “It’s time to bring our soldiers back home.”

THE FACTS: Despite what Trump suggests, American forces in Syria won’t be returning home in mass numbers anytime soon.

While the U.S. has begun what the Pentagon calls a deliberate withdrawal of troops from Syria, Trump himself has said that the 200-300 U.S. forces deployed to a southern Syria outpost in Al-Tanf will remain there. Also, while the U.S. forces are leaving Syria, that doesn’t mean they are automatically coming home. Instead, military officials are developing plans to station U.S. forces in nearby locations, including Iraq and possibly Jordan, where they will still be able to monitor and, if needed, continue to conduct operations against IS.

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Trump’s escalating lies on Ukraine, impeachment

A troubled President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. A whistle blew, an impeachment inquiry swung into motion and the president at the center of it all rose defiantly to his own defense, not always in command of the facts. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A whistle blew, an impeachment inquiry swung into motion and the president at the center of it all rose defiantly to his own defense, not always in command of the facts.

A CIA officer, in a complaint filed under federal whistleblower protections that preserve anonymity, alleged President Donald Trump abused his office in pressing for a Ukrainian investigation of a Democratic rival, Joe Biden. That revelation persuaded Democrats to move ahead with an inquiry that could produce articles of impeachment. Trump has reacted with anger, with weekend tweets that made the groundless accusation that Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman taking the lead in the impeachment review, criticized him “illegally.”

A look at Trump’s recent words on impeachment, Ukraine and other subjects:

UKRAINE

TRUMP: “Liddle’ Adam Schiff … fraudulently and illegally inserted his made up & twisted words into my call with the Ukrainian President to make it look like I did something very wrong. He then boldly read those words to Congress and millions of people, defaming & libeling me.” — tweets Saturday.

THE FACTS: He is exaggerating Schiff’s exaggerations. The California Democrat, in what he said was a parody during a committee hearing, mocked and overstated the president’s pleas in his July 25 call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as Trump does with his critics routinely. Schiff’s remarks are not illegal nor would it be defamatory or libelous, because lawmakers are shielded from liability for comments made in the course of Congress under the “speech or debate” clause in the Constitution, which seeks to foster political debate.

During Thursday’s House intelligence committee hearing, Schiff made clear he was providing an account that was in “essence” what he believed Trump was conveying to Zelenskiy when “shorn of its rambling character.”

No exact transcript of Trump’s comments with Ukraine’s president actually exists, just a rough transcript released by the White House.

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TRUMP, describing the July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart: “Another Fake News Story! See what was said on the very nice, no pressure, call.”— tweet Thursday.

TRUMP: “My call was perfect.” — remarks to reporters Thursday.

THE FACTS: It’s a big stretch for Trump to say he placed no pressure on Zelenskiy in that phone call — a conversation marked by Trump’s blunt remark: “I would like for you to do us a favor,” according to a White House account of the call.

Trump repeatedly prodded Zelenskiy to help investigate Biden and son Hunter, as well as to look into a cybersecurity firm that investigated the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee and concluded it was carried out by Russia.

The call followed a monthslong campaign by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, conducted on Trump’s behalf to get Ukrainians to scrutinize Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine when Joe Biden was vice president. It also followed Trump’s abrupt suspension of military aid for Ukraine that Congress had approved. The aid was recently released.

When Zelenskiy thanked Trump for past U.S. aid and suggested his country might need more, Trump switched the topic to the investigation he wanted Ukraine to do. He asked Zelenskiy to work with Attorney General William Barr and Giuliani on the matter.

As for the call being “perfect,” it was actually worrisome enough so that White House attorneys moved a rough transcript of it to a highly secure system where fewer officials would have access to it than is normally the case for conversations between Trump and world leaders.

The call and the broader effort to win a foreign government’s help on a matter that could benefit Trump’s reelection are what sparked the impeachment inquiry.

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TRUMP, denouncing information from the whistleblower: “All second hand information that proved to be so inaccurate.” — tweet Friday.

THE FACTS: The whistleblower’s accusations have not been shown to be incorrect. Several key details have actually been corroborated. For example, the White House account of the July 25 phone call showed that the whistleblower had accurately summarized the conversation, as relayed by unidentified U.S. officials, in the complaint sent to the acting director of national intelligence.

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TRUMP: “I want to see other countries helping Ukraine also, not just us. As usual the United States helps and nobody else is there.” — remarks to reporters Wednesday.

TRUMP: “I’d withhold again, and I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine. Because they’re not doing it; it’s the United States. … Why is it only the United States putting up the money?” — remarks to reporters Tuesday.

THE FACTS: It isn’t only the U.S. putting up money. It’s false to say “nobody else is there.”

European Union institutions have provided far more development assistance than the U.S.— compared with $204 million from Washington. EU members, Japan and Canada also contribute significantly.

Since 2014, the EU and European financial institutions have mobilized more than $16 billion to help Ukraine’s economy, counter corruption, build institutions and strengthen its sovereignty against further incursions by Russia after its annexation of Crimea.

The U.S. is a heavy source of military assistance. The aid package held back by Trump, and recently released, amounted to nearly $400 million in such aid. But NATO also contributes a variety of military-assistance programs and trust funds for Ukraine. In most such cases, the programs are modest and NATO countries other than the U.S. take the lead.

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TRUMP, in the July 25 call with Ukraine’s leader: “Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk.” — according to White House account of the conversation, released Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Germany is the third largest bilateral donor to Ukraine, after the EU and the U.S.

“Anyone who views this soberly will conclude Germany is strongly involved,” said German foreign ministry spokesman Rainer Breul.

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GUN CONTROL

TRUMP: “It is disgraceful what the Do Nothing Democrats are doing (the Impeachment Scam), but it is also disgraceful what they are NOT doing, … Gun Safety … and much more!” — tweet Saturday.

TRUMP, speaking of the Democratic senator from Connecticut: “Chris Murphy — who I’ve been dealing with on guns — you know, so nice. He’s always, ‘Oh, no, we want to work it out. We want to work it out.’ But they’re too busy wasting their time on the witch hunt.” — news conference Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Trump is the main holdup on gun control legislation as he mulls whether to endorse expanded background checks.

The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill in February that would require background checks on all gun sales, including those between strangers who meet online or at gun shows. But Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it’s not clear the Senate would be able to pass the legislation or that Trump would sign it into law. Earlier this month, McConnell stressed that Congress would remain “in a holding pattern ” on gun control as lawmakers await proposals from the White House.

A proposal being floated by Barr on Capitol Hill would require background checks on all commercial gun sales, including at gun shows. But Trump told reporters this month the plan was one of many ideas under consideration and he would go “very slowly.”

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ECONOMY and TRADE

TRUMP: “How do you impeach a President who has created the greatest Economy in the history of our Country.” — tweet Saturday.

TRUMP: “Our country is the strongest it’s ever been economically.” — news conference Wednesday.

THE FACTS: It isn’t.

In the late 1990s, growth topped 4% for four straight years, a level it has not reached on an annual basis under Trump. Growth reached 7.2% in 1984. The economy grew 2.9% in 2018 — the same pace it reached in 2015 under President Barack Obama — and hasn’t hit historically high growth rates.

The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low of 3.7%, but the proportion of Americans with a job was higher in the 1990s. Wages were rising at a faster pace back then, too. More Americans are now out of the workforce, taking care of children or relatives, or going to school, while others became discouraged about their job prospects and stopped looking. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching for jobs.

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VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: “We have before the Congress what will be the largest trade deal in American history. … It’s time for Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and pass it this year.” — remarks Thursday in Indianapolis.

THE FACTS: It’s not the largest trade deal ever made.

It covers the same three countries as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the Trump administration is seeking to replace. In contrast, the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations concluded in 1994 created the World Trade Organization and was signed by 123 countries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found the following year that the WTO’s initial membership accounted for more than 90 percent of global economic output.

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TRUMP on the effects of the impeachment inquiry: “The stock market went up when they saw the nonsense. All of a sudden the stock market went down very substantially when they saw a charge. After they read the charge, the stock market went up very substantially.” — remarks to reporters in New York on Wednesday.

THE FACTS: First, he’s not actually charged with anything. He’s saying the market went down Tuesday when the impeachment drive was announced and up after the White House memo on his phone call with Ukraine’s president came out. That’s roughly right, but it’s wrong to tie the market fluctuations solely — or even primarily — to the impeachment episode.

The market cares even more about the economy, and currently the biggest wild card for the U.S. economy is how much Trump’s trade war with China could curtail growth. Since it began last year, the stock market has fallen with each escalation of tensions and risen when the two sides appeared close to resolving the dispute.

The 142-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday was partly due to the impeachment developments but was also tied to Trump taking a hard line on China in a speech to the United Nations, which seemed to dim the prospects that coming talks would resolve the trade standoff. While the market did move higher Wednesday after the release of the memo, the Commerce Department released some solid numbers on the housing market around the same time.

Moreover, just after the comment on the stock exchange, Trump told reporters a deal with China “could happen sooner than you think,” and the Dow quickly doubled its gain.

The economic-political dynamic was evident in the impeachment inquiries of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. After the initial inquiry of Nixon in October 1973, the S&P 500 index fell 33% the next year. But the S&P 500 gained 39% after the Clinton impeachment inquiry started in October 1998. The difference: The economy was headed toward a recession in the mid-1970s, while the economy was growing strongly in the late 1990s. For Trump, the U.S. economy slowed to growth of about 2% in the second quarter from 3% in the first quarter and current estimates are for 2% growth in the third quarter.

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TRUMP: “In America, the result was 4.2 million lost manufacturing jobs … the United States is now taking that decisive action to end this grave economic injustice.” — address Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly.

WHITE HOUSE: “The president is getting rid of the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement and replacing it with a better deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Our country has lost 4 million manufacturing jobs since NAFTA went into effect.” — news release Tuesday.

THE FACTS: The loss of factory jobs is not all due to NAFTA.

Trump is correct that the United States has lost nearly 4 million factory jobs since that pact took effect in January 1994. But most economists attribute the losses to other factors — the recessions of 2001 and 2007-2009, automation that lets machines replace workers and low-cost competition from China.

Trump’s proposed NAFTA replacement is hardly expected to create a jobs boom. The independent International Trade Commission estimates that the new deal would create 176,000 jobs over six years, a rounding error in a country with 152 million nonfarm jobs.

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BEAUTY PAGEANT

TRUMP, recalling his days as the owner of the Miss Universe pageant: “It’s a great thing. And we had a winner from Ukraine.” — remarks Wednesday before a meeting with Zelenskiy.

THE FACTS: A Ukrainian woman has never won the Miss Universe title. Several made the top 10 during Trump’s tenure at the pageant, which he bought in 1996 and sold in 2015. But none took the prize in the pageant’s history, which dates to 1952. Ukrainian Olesia Stefanko was first runner-up in 2011.

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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Zeke Miller, and Paul Wiseman in Washington and Paul Harloff in New York contributed to this report.

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Trump continues to play fast and loose with ‘facts’

President Donald Trump is misrepresenting the facts about his proposal to freeze Obama-era fuel economy requirements at 2021 levels.

In multiple tweets Wednesday, Trump blasted auto executives as “foolish” and weak and accused the companies of being “politically correct” for resisting the plan, which two of his agencies are putting together in a final regulation.

Trump favors a freeze to the standards put in place under former President Barack Obama that gradually rise through 2026. But automakers have repeatedly said they want one national standard with gas mileage increases that give them flexibility because consumers are moving away from more efficient cars to SUVs and trucks. Four automakers, Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen, have signed an agreement with California to back higher standards.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to set its own mileage and pollution standards, but the Trump administration wants to challenge that. Automakers fear having two standards will force them to pay more to design different models for California — and any other states that opt to impose higher standards — and the rest of the nation. Companies also fear a long court battle that would make the standards uncertain.

A look at Trump’s claims and reality:

TRUMP: “My proposal to the politically correct Automobile Companies would lower the average price of a car to consumers by more than $3000, while at the same time making the cars substantially safer. Engines would run smoother. Very little impact on the environment! Foolish executives!”

TRUMP: “The Legendary Henry Ford and Alfred P. Sloan, the Founders of Ford Motor Company and General Motors, are ‘rolling over’ at the weakness of current car company executives willing to spend more money on a car that is not as safe or good, and cost $3,000 more to consumers. Crazy!”

THE FACTS: Trump is inflating the projected savings to consumers under his plan, minimizing the potential environmental harm and may be exaggerating the safety benefits. He’s also incorrect that Sloan founded General Motors; in fact, it was William Durant who founded the company in 1908, combining several companies that produced Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and other vehicles. Sloan was a longtime president, CEO and chairman of GM, leading the company from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Trump’s own administration, in documents proposing to freeze the standards, puts the cost of meeting the Obama-era requirements at around $2,700 per vehicle. It claims buyers would save that much by 2025, over standards in place in 2016. But that number is disputed by environmental groups and is more than double the estimates from the Obama administration.

Trump’s tweet also is ignoring money that consumers would save at the gas pump if cars get better mileage. A study released Aug. 7 by Consumer Reports found that the owner of a 2026 vehicle will pay over $3,300 more for gasoline during the life of a vehicle if the standards are frozen at 2021 levels. The administration’s proposed freeze would hold the average fuel economy for the new-vehicle fleet at 29.1 mpg in real-world driving, while the Obama-era standards would raise it to 37.5 mpg by 2026, according to Consumer Reports.

A White House spokesman had no immediate comment on how Trump came up with his claims.

In regards to the environment, Trump claims his proposal would cause little harm, but documents from his own administration say that U.S. fuel consumption would increase by about 500,000 barrels per day, a 2% to 3% increase. Environmental groups predict even more fuel consumed, resulting in higher pollution.

Trump’s statement that cars would be substantially safer also is in dispute. His administration argues that lower-cost vehicles would allow more people to buy new ones that are safer, cutting roadway deaths by 12,700 lives through the 2029 model year. But Consumer Reports says any safety impact from changes in gas mileage standards are small and won’t vary much from zero.

There’s little basis for Trump’s claim that engines would run more smoothly. Early versions of cars with more fuel-efficient transmissions, turbochargers and technology that stops engines at red lights were rough, but those have been refined.

“The automakers have figured out how to use this technology and make the cars smoother driving, too,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of auto testing.

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