go to content

Trump Keeps Taking Credit For Deals Struck While Obama Was President

Everything old is new again!

Originally posted on
Updated on

Ford announced on Tuesday the company would invest $1.2 billion in three facilities in Michigan where it will build trucks and SUVs, and store electronic data.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to link the news to his efforts to increase manufacturing by automakers within the US.

"Big announcement by Ford today. Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!" he tweeted early Tuesday.

Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway also heralded the news on Twitter, suggesting Trump deserved credit: "Two weeks after @POTUS met with auto execs...Ford plans ‘significant’ investments in 3 plants," she tweeted.

The problem? The investment announced on Tuesday actually stemmed from a 2015 deal negotiated between Ford and the United Auto Workers union.

Under that 2015 collective bargaining agreement, Ford committed itself to investing $9 billion in US plants with the expectation of creating or retaining 8,500 jobs across a number of states, including Michigan.

"The majority of what was announced today is part of the 2015 UAW contract," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker told BuzzFeed News via email. "The $850 billion at Michigan Assembly Plant was part of the contract, as was the Romeo Engine Plant. The $200 million data center was not part of the UAW contract, but it wouldn’t be because there are no hourly jobs at the data center."

When asked if the White House did anything during a meeting with automakers that may have led to the Michigan announcement, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters, "I think there's been some regulatory effort and some commitments on the regulatory efforts going forward in the future that I think may have played a role."

Felker also said that Ford reached out to the White House about its plans shortly before 8 a.m. ET — about 90 mins after Trump sent his tweet.

Before he was even inaugurated as president, Trump took credit for stopping Ford from moving to Mexico — but the automaker had no plans of shuttering the factory.

"Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky - no Mexico," Trump tweeted on Nov. 17. "I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!"

While Ford had been planning to move the production of its Lincoln MKC to Mexico, the company said its Louisville plant was not set to close, or even lose any jobs, because of the expanded production of another vehicle, the Ford Escape.

Instead, the Lincoln will now continue to be built in Kentucky. "We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve US competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States,” a Ford statement from November said.

In early March, Trump and his administration pointed to a $20 billion investment by oil giant ExxonMobil on the US Gulf Coast as proof they were "bringing back the JOBS!"

"This is something that was done to a large extent because of our policies and the policies of this new administration having to do with regulation and so many other things," Trump said in a video address. "I said we would bring back jobs. This is one example of it."

"@POTUS promised to bring back jobs to America," Vice President Mike Pence tweeted. "Today's news is further evidence of the country's spirit of optimism, boosting job growth."

But statements from both the White House and Exxon also contained the following important disclaimer about Exxon's Growing the Gulf program: "Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022."

In an Oval Office event on March 24, President Trump and Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge announced the company would invest $25 billion in the US and commit to hiring 20,000 American workers over four years.

But in April 2016, the company had said it would hire 20,000 employees if regulators allowed it to purchase Time Warner Cable. The deal was approved and finalized last spring.

"We've already begun insourcing efforts for the new company," Rutledge said on a company call in August. "The process of insourcing will take several years and will require that we hire 20,000 people."

On that same August call, Rutledge said the company was building a call center in McAllen, Texas — a facility Trump also pointed to in his Oval Office "announcement" in March.

A Charter spokesperson maintained to BuzzFeed News that while the company had previously spoken of "plans" to hire 20,000 new workers, it hadn't formally "committed" to doing so until this March.

Speaking alongside President Trump at the White House on Feb. 8, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced a $7 billion investment in a semiconductor factory in Chandler, Arizona, which he said would employ 3,000 high-wage workers as part of a total of more than 10,000 long-term jobs in the state.

"We’re very happy and I can tell you the people of Arizona are very happy,” Trump said of Intel’s announcement.

But Krzanich first announced the Chandler factory, dubbed Fab 42, back in 2011 during a visit to an Intel facility by President Obama.

Intel said then the company aimed to finish construction of the factory in 2013.

"Fab 42 was originally announced in 2011,” a spokesperson for Intel told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “We delayed completion to ensure Fab 42 came online when we expected sufficient demand. We’re making this investment now in anticipation of the growth of our business.”

During the presidential transition, the CEO of Japanese technology giant SoftBank paid a visit to Trump Tower in New York City to announce meet with the then president-elect.

Masayoshi Son, or "Masa," announced a $50 billion US investment would create 50,000 jobs over four years. The money, he said, would come from a $100 billion fund he created with Saudi Arabia in October 2016.

"Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!" Trump tweeted of the US investment.

Many analysts, however, were skeptical of Trump's claim that SoftBank would not have invested in the US had he not won the election.

"Those billions were likely to end up in the US no matter who won," according to a Wall Street Journal report. "SoftBank announced the $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund nearly a month before the election, when most pundits expected Mr. Trump to lose. Given its size, the fund was likely to put most of its money in the US, still home to the world’s most-promising technology companies."

Jun Tanabe, who works at JPMorgan Securities in Tokyo and analyses Soft Bank, told the Washington Post he believed Masa was trying to build a good relationship with Trump.

"[Masa] must have intended as much as half of the Vision Fund to go to the US, as he’s aware that there are great companies in Silicon Valley. But he chose this time to announce it as Trump is now going to be the next president," Tanabe said.

Softbank, which owns Sprint and has invested in BuzzFeed, has pushed to have Sprint merge with T-Mobile to create a telecommunications company that could better compete with AT&T and Verizon. Such a merger would require approval from federal regulators.

Matthew Zeitlin, Hamza Shaban, Claudia Koerner, and Salvador Hernandez contributed reporting.

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.