Monday, November 20, 2017
Politics

PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump's press conference

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In a sprawling news conference Thursday, Donald Trump returned to a number of themes from his campaign and repeated a slew of new and old falsehoods. Here's the rundown of the roughly hour-and-a-half event.

Electoral College

Trump opened his remarks talking about his accomplishments, starting with the election itself.

"We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes," Trump said. "I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan."

This is incorrect. Trump received a smaller share of the Electoral College votes (56.88 percent) than former presidents George H.W. Bush (79.18 percent), Bill Clinton (68.77 percent in 1992, and 70.45 percent in 1996) and Barack Obama (67.84 percent in 2008 and 61.71 percent in 2012).

So that's five elections since Reagan and in which the winner got a larger percentage of the Electoral College votes than Trump.

Overall, Trump ranks in the bottom third in terms of the size of his Electoral College win. We rated his repeated claim that he won in a "massive landslide" False.

9th Circuit

Trump criticized the recent decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that stops his administration from enforcing its immigration and travel ban executive order while lawyers debate its legality in court.

He said the 9th Circuit "has been overturned at a record number. I have heard 80 percent. I find that hard to believe, that is just a number I heard, that they are overturned 80 percent of the time."

Trump's figure isn't too far off. Between 2010-15, of all the cases the Supreme Court heard that came from the 9th Circuit, 79 percent were overturned.

However, this is not "a record." The reversal rate for the 6th Circuit was 87 percent during those six years, and the reversal rate was 85 percent for the 11th Circuit.

What's more, the Supreme Court generally reverses more cases than it affirms, 70 percent on average, because the cases that it chooses to take on are often disputed among the lower courts, complex and problematic. We rated this False.

Stock market

Trump cited the stock market highs as a sign of a promising business environment.

"The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know. And there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world," he said.

The three major stock indexes, Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq, all closed at record highs for five consecutive days. While investors are optimistic about Trump's plans to cut taxes and eliminate regulations, experts said factors other than Trump's presidency play influential roles in the stock market. This claim rates Mostly True.

Media approval rate

Assailing media coverage of his administration, Trump told the assembled reporters, "You have a lower approval rate than Congress, I think that's right, I don't know."

Congress actually ranks below the news media, according to surveys from three different research groups spanning several years. In two polls, mistrust in the media broke 40 percent, which is hardly anything to brag about. But in those studies, mistrust in Congress was over 50 percent.

Trump had a point that the media has a trust issue, but he was incorrect to rank them lower than Congress. This claim rates Mostly False.

GOP not hacked

Trump touted the fact that while the Democratic National Committee was hacked during the election, "they tried to hack us and they failed."

The gist of Trump's claim is correct. We rated a similar claim Mostly True.

While Russians were able to get into the email accounts of some Republican individuals and state-level Republican organizations, they did not break into the Republican National Committee's system. Any information the hackers accessed was outdated and wasn't released. It's not completely clear why hackers did not break into the current RNC. We don't know whether they tried and failed or didn't try at all.

Putin relationship

Trump tried to distance himself personally from the Russian government.

"I have nothing to do with Russia," he said. "Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years. Don't speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn't. I just have nobody to speak to. I spoke to Putin twice. He called me on the election. I told you this. And he called me on the inauguration, a few days ago."

Just a couple years ago, Trump touted his close relationship with Putin. "I do have a relationship (with him), and I can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today," he said in a 2013 MSNBC interview, for example.

We rated this reversal a Full Flop.

The Trump-O-Meter

We're tracking 102 of Trump's campaign pledges on our Trump-O-Meter. In the news conference, he listed several actions he's taken since his Jan. 20 inauguration.

For example, he said, "We've withdrawn from the job-killing disaster known as Trans Pacific Partnership." We rated this Promise Kept.

And he said, "We've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare." That promise rates In the Works.

Also In the Works is his "promised wall on the southern border."

Read more rulings and view the Trump-O-Meter at PolitiFact.com.

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