There’s a high bar to accusing someone of committing a “lie,” and we don’t do it lightly.
A lie isn’t just a false statement. It’s a false statement whose speaker knows it’s false. In these instances, the president — or his administration — have clear reason to know otherwise. Reporters are understandably cautious about using the word — some never do, because it requires speculating on what someone is thinking. The cases we call “lies” are ones where we think it’s fair to make that call: Trump is saying something that contradicts clear and widely published information that we have reason to think he’s seen. This list also includes bullshit: speech that is — in its academic definition — “unconnected to a concern with the truth.”
Trump’s words: “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan,” Trump said during a news conference on Feb. 16.
Lie: Trump actually won 304 electoral votes, because two electors refused to cast their vote for him when the Electoral College met.
Several former presidents have also received more electoral votes than Trump. George H. W. Bush won with 426 electoral votes in 1988. Bill Clinton won 370 votes in 1992 and 379 in 1996, and Barack Obama won with 365 votes in 2008.
When a reporter at the news conference called Trump out for spreading false information, the president said, “Well, I was just given that information. I don’t know. I was just given…We had a very big margin.”
Read more here.
Trump’s words: Trump tweeted on Sunday, “While on FAKE NEWS @CNN, Bernie Sanders was cut off for using the term fake news to describe the network. They said technical difficulties!”
Senator Sanders was on CNN’s Erin Burnett Out Front on Feb. 10, discussing Trump’s travel ban and controversy surrounding National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, among other topics.
Lie: During the interview, Burnett showed Sanders a clip of Trump responding to a reporter’s question following news that Flynn called the Russian ambassador to the US before the inauguration to discuss previously-imposed sanctions. In the clip, Trump says he has “not seen the report.”
Burnett then asked Sanders if it’s a problem that the president did not know about the report, in which Sanders criticized Trump for dismissing negative news as “fake news.”
CNN PR tweeted a transcript of the interview, which reads:
Burnett: “He says he knows nothing about it, hasn’t seen any of these reports. Is that a problem?”
Sanders: “Well, I don’t know, maybe he was watching CNN fake news, what do you think?”
Burnett: “You don’t buy it?”
Sanders: “That was a joke.”
Burnett: “I know it was a joke. I’m saying, you don’t buy what he said, obviously?”
Right after Burnett acknowledged that Sanders was joking when he called CNN “fake news,” the audio cut out and CNN went to a commercial break. When the show returned, Burnett picked up her interview where they left off and Sanders went on to say it’s “not a joke” when “you have a president who attacks people in the media who make critical remarks of him — which is what their jobs is — as providing ‘fake news.’”
Watch the interview here.
Trump’s words: Trump again claimed there was widespread voter fraud during the November election, this time telling senators “thousands” of people were bussed in from Massachusetts to vote in New Hampshire.
Trump made the unsubstantiated claims in a closed-door meeting with 10 senators Thursday to discuss his Supreme Court nomination, Neil Gorsuch, Politico reported.
Trump blamed “thousands” of people who were “brought in on buses” from Massachusetts to vote illegally in New Hampshire during the meeting, which was also reported by the Associated Press.
Lie: Officials at New Hampshire’s secretary of state office, US Attorney’s Office, and Massachusetts’ attorney general’s office told BuzzFeed News there was no evidence to support the president’s claim.
“We have not seen any evidence of busloads of out-of-state voters coming across the border to vote in New Hampshire elections,” David Scanlan, deputy secretary of state for New Hampshire, said. Read more here.
Trump’s words: Trump tweeted at 6:57 a.m., “Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?”
At 8:17 a.m., Trump added, “Chris Cuomo, in this interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave ‘service’ in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!”
Blumenthal was interviewed on CNN Thursday morning, following his statement from the previous day, in which he said the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch, said Trump’s recent attacks on the judiciary are “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
Lie: Cuomo asked that exact question. His question to Blumenthal was, “What is your response to the president of the United States, who says you should not be believed because you misrepresented your military record in the past?”
Trump’s words: The same day that Trump’s education pick Betsy DeVos was confirmed, he tweeted that it is a “disgrace” that his “full Cabinet is still not in place” and that the delay is the longest “in the history of our country.”
The truth: Though overall Trump’s nominees are getting confirmed more slowly than those of most previous modern presidents, he still hasn’t been without a full cabinet longer than his predecessors were. Obama’s final nominee wasn’t confirmed, for example, until April of 2009, and both Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush had nominees confirmed in March.
So while Trump’s frustration in a slow confirmation process may be grounded in reality, his claim that this is “the longest such delay in the history of our country” is not.
Trump’s words: Trump told a group of US sheriffs that the murder rate in the US was the highest it’s been in “45 to 47 years.”
The truth: The US murder rate is at close to an all-time low, and law enforcement experts say Trump’s claim is so far away from the facts that it’s ludicrous. Based on FBI statistics, the murder rate was 5.0 homicides per 100,000 people in 2015, down from a peak in 1980 of 10.2 per 100,000 people. The highest number of total homicides was in 1991, when 24,703 were killed. Though several US cities have seen the number of murders rise from 2015 to 2016, the overall number is still dramatically lower than what it was in the 1980s and 1990s.
Trump’s words: In a speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, Trump said that radical Islamic terrorists “are determined to strike our homeland.” He went on to say that terrorism was spreading across Europe, but that the media was refusing to cover it.
“All across Europe you’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice,” Trump said. “All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.”
“They have their reasons, and you understand that,” he said without elaborating.
Other attacks that have also received extensive media attention include an attack in Brussels in March 2016, as well as an incident in February 2017 at the Louvre museum in Paris in which a man attempted to use a machete and was shot by a soldier.
Trump provided no evidence of any other attacks that the media has not covered. He didn’t mention any specific incidents, and BuzzFeed News was unable to identify any events that were ignored by major US media organizations. The Trump administration did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for a list of terror-related incidents that were “not even being reported.”
Trump’s words: President Donald Trump posted to his official Facebook page a news report that erroneously claimed Kuwait had followed his recent immigration order by implementing a visa ban on several Muslim-majority nations.
Lie: The Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressly denied the reports. In a statement to state-run news outlet Kuwait News Agency, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Sami Al-Hamad said the ministry “categorically denies these claims and affirms that these reported nationalities … have big communities in Kuwait and enjoy full rights.” Read more here.
Trump’s words: After a weekend of nationwide protests over Trump’s controversial executive order barring US entry for refugees as well as citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, he blamed Delta’s computer outage, protesters, and the tears of Schumer for the “big problems at airports.”
Lie: The mass outrage and confusion at airports from Friday through Sunday was caused by Trump’s executive order itself, which travelers, immigration attorneys, airlines, judges, and custom officials struggled to interpret. Delta’s outage didn’t happen until Sunday night, and no protesters interrupted the arrivals process at airports. Read more here.
Trump’s words: Trump said Friday during a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May that he was in Scotland the day before the “Brexit” vote last June and predicted the EU referendum would pass.
“I happened to be in Scotland, at Turnberry, cutting a ribbon, when Brexit happened,” he said. “And we had a vast amount of press there and I said – this was the day before, you probably remember – ‘Brexit is going to happen’ and I was scorned in the press for making that prediction, I was scorned.
“Lo and behold the following day it happened and the odds weren’t looking good for me when I made that statement because as you remember everyone thought it wasn’t going to happen.”
Lie: In reality, Trump arrived in Scotland the day after the EU referendum, June 24, 2016, when the result was already clear.
Trump’s words: At the GOP retreat on Jan. 26, Trump said that Philadelphia’s murder rate is “steady, I mean just terribly increasing.”
Lie: The homicide rate in Philadelphia has been steadily declining over the past decade. According to statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there were 277 murders in 2016, compared to 280 murders in 2015. Over a five-year period, murders were down 19%. And over a 10-year period, murders were down 41%.
Trump’s words: A day after Trump signed an executive order to extend a wall along the southern border and insisting Mexico would pay for it, the president said he and Enrique Peña Nieto agreed to cancel the meeting.
“The president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week,” Trump said at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia. “Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route.”
Lie: Hours earlier, Peña Nieto tweeted that he called the White House to cancel the meeting, adding, “I lament and reject the decision of the United States to continue building a wall that for years does not unite us, but divides us.”
Trump’s words: “Look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, a very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech,” Trump told ABC News’ David Muir. “They weren’t shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech.”
The president was discussing crime in Chicago and his suggestion to “send in the feds” when he claimed two people were shot and killed during Obama’s Jan. 10 farewell address to the nation.
Lie: Chicago Police told BuzzFeed News there were no people killed by gun violence on Jan. 10. A log of shootings in the city also showed there were five non-fatal shootings in the city that day, but none occurred while Obama gave his speech.
Trump’s words: “You have people who are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states,” Trump told ABC’s David Muir. “You have people registered in two states. You have people registered in New York and New Jersey. They vote twice.” He also cited a Pew report as evidence, saying, “Take a look at the Pew reports.”
Trump’s words: Sources confirmed to multiple media outlets that Trump spent at least 10 minutes of his meeting with congressional leaders talking about how 3 to 5 million “illegals” voted in the election, costing him the popular vote.
Lie: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. The National Association of Secretaries of State — which has a majority of Republicans — said it is “not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump.” And in a Michigan legal filing by Trump’s lawyers after the election, they wrote, “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
This is not the first time Trump has claimed he would have won the popular vote if illegal immigrants had not voted. Almost 20 days after the election, Trump tweeted about the issue.
While Trump won the presidency with 309 electoral votes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.
A claim that 3 million “illegal aliens” had voted in the election was published by right-wing conspiracy site InfoWars on Nov. 14, but voting officials have said there is no evidence of this.
Trump’s words: Trump finished his ABC News interview by pointing to framed photographs hung on a wall. “Here’s a picture of the crowd,” he said. “The audience was the biggest ever. This audience was massive, look how far back it goes.” He then pointed to another panoramic photo, saying the crowd — which he described as “a sea of love” — goes “all the way down.”
Lie: The audience wasn’t “the biggest ever.” As mentioned above, photographs from the inauguration show the crowd did not extend as far back as Trump claims it did.
Trump’s words: The inaugural crowd “looked honestly like a million and a half people” adding that “it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”
Lie: Aerial photos of the crowd at 11a.m. and 12 p.m. — around the time Trump took the oath of office — show that the crowd witnessing the inauguration did not extend back to the Washington Monument.
About 11 million more households watched the 2017 inauguration than the 2013 inauguration, which Donald Trump tweeted about. A previous version of this post said that those Nielsen figures were incorrect, and the line was removed.
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