It should be clear by now to anybody paying attention that Donald Trump long ago determined that the traditional concepts of “true” and “false” have no relevance when he decides what words to let fly from his mouth. Even for Trump, though, the last few weeks have presented a stunning parade of howlers, fibs, falsehoods and fabrications – also known as lies.
The thing about Trump is that he’s so blasé about lying, and does it so frequently, that people tend to forget how many made-up facts they’ve heard from him. Sometimes, it’s instructive to make a list of his major whoppers, so here’s one. Limited to the month of November. So far.
For purposes of this article, I’m making the distinction between things Trump says that are simply untrue and things that are demonstrable lies.
For example, Trump’s claim that he would deport all undocumented immigrants in the space of two years – something that would require nearly 16,500 deportations every single day – isn’t counted here as a lie, as such. It’s logically possible to imagine deportations on that scale, even if it isn’t politically or legally so.
But there is no shortage of other Trump utterances that are transparently – sometimes laughably – false. And many of them he regularly repeats, even after being informed that they aren’t true.
Herewith, his greatest hits from the month of November.
1) American Muslims celebrated 9/11 by the thousands.
“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” Trump recently claimed. “And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
This was Trump on Sunday, discussing the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on ABC. Politifact gave this one it’s coveted “Pants on Fire” rating, and it’s no wonder. Thousands of people cheering the destruction of the Twin Towers from a few miles away? It’s impossible that there wouldn’t be a contemporaneous report – or a thousand – hanging around. Not to mention the archival footage that Trump claims to have seen.
All Trump’s defenders can point to is a single Washington Post article, with no sourcing, claiming that there were tailgate-style parties on rooftops. The report has been thoroughly debunked by both the police and the mayor in Jersey City.
2) Trump won’t run as a third party candidate.
Trump said: “I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
Admittedly, the statement above wasn’t made in November, but Trump only revealed that it had been a lie over the weekend. The words are part of the text of a loyalty pledge that Trump signed in September, in part to allay concerns among the Republican faithful that he might splinter the party in the 2016 general election, assuring victory for Hillary Clinton.
On Sunday, however, Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he remains open to a third-party run.
Turns out the pledge wasn’t worth the piece of paper that Trump, using a big black magic marker, scrawled his signature on.
3) The Obama administration is bringing a quarter-million Syrians into the country.
“Our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria … Think of it, 250,000 people. And we all have heart, and we all want people taken care of and all of that, but with the problems our country has, to take in 250,000 people — some of whom are going to have problems, big problems — is just insane.”
That’s Trump, at a campaign rally in Texas, exaggerating by a factor of 25 the number of Syrian refugees that the Obama administration committed to accepting from Syria over the coming year. The Obama administration is planning to take in 10,000 refugees over the next year, and possibly a small additional number after that. It’s a fact that is well- and widely known, but Trump consistently ignores it.
4) Syrian refugees are already flooding the U.S.
Trump said: “Refugees are pouring into our great country from Syria. We don’t even know who they are. They could be ISIS. They could be anybody.”
Trump uses his Instagram feed to post pithy video tirades about whatever he is currently outraged about, and last week it was an imaginary wave of Syrian refugees “pouring” into the country. In fact, the U.S. has resettled fewer than 2,000 refugees from Syria, out of the millions of people displaced by a civil war that started more than four years ago. In a country of 322 million people, 500 refugees a year is better described as a trickle.
Trump actually hit the daily double of falsehood in this claim. The idea that “we don’t even know who they are” is laughable, considering the much-publicized vetting process that requires refugees to wait up to 18 months and to pass multiple background and health checks before gaining admission.
5) Obama is sending Syrian refugees to Republican states.
“They send them to the Republicans, not to the Democrats, you know because they know the problem … why would we want to bother the Democrats?”
That’s Trump on the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham’s show talking about Syrian refugee resettlement. Not only are Syrian refugees “pouring” into the country, according to Trump, they are also being directed exclusively to states with Republican governors.
This one also go the “pants on fire” treatment from Politifact, for several reasons. Among them was the well-documented evidence that on a per-state basis refugees are being resettled at close to the same rate in states run by Republicans (39) and Democrats (34.) Also, refugee agencies say that the primary factors driving the location of resettlement are the presence of family members and/or support structures, and the ability of resettlement agencies to manage the transition.
Trump also used the show to restate the 250,000 refugee number, and the host pushed back. You know when Laura Ingraham is trying to get you to dial back the anti-immigrant rhetoric, you may be crossing a line.
6) African-Americans are responsible for the overwhelming majority of murders of white people in the U.S.
This one is a lie by other means. Trump used his Twitter account to retweet a graphic saying, among other things, that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by black people, and 97 percent of all black murder victims are killed by black people.
Trump sent that out to his nearly five million Twitter followers on Sunday, after one of his rallies was interrupted by a Black Lives Matter protester. The protester was beaten by Trump’s supporters – something Trump later said he had deserved.
The statistics, attributed to the non-existent “Crime Statistics Bureau” of San Francisco, came illustrated with a picture of a gun-wielding black man dressed in military fatigue pants and a black t-shirt, his face obscured by a bandana. The numbers were wildly wrong, particularly with regard to the percentage of white murder victims killed by blacks. In truth, more than 80 percent of white murder victims are killed by other whites.
7) He and Vladimir Putin are buddies.
Trump said: “I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates and we did very well that night.”
Trump, whose foreign policy credentials are slim at best, tried to bulk them up during the most recent GOP presidential debate by suggesting that he and Vladimir Putin are on friendly terms following a joint appearance on the same episode of the CBS news magazine show
Trump and Vladimir Putin did, indeed, appear on the show on the same night. But Trump is clearly implying that the two bonded over the experience – maybe sharing a cup of coffee in the green room. However, both men appeared in pre-taped segments. Trump was recorded in his New York office. Putin was interviewed thousands of miles away, in Moscow. Trump didn’t meet Putin.
8) China is the big winner in the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal “was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone,” and currency manipulation “is not even discussed.”
The fourth Republican debate was a rough night for Trump. In addition to his claim to have hung out with Vladimir Putin, the former reality television star claimed that China would be the big winner if the Obama administration’s huge Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is allowed to move forward. He also implied that China had exerted its influence to leave currency manipulation unaddressed in the treaty.
Trump was embarrassed (or at least should have been) when he was corrected by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who noted that China is not a party to TPP.
Politifact delivered another “pants on fire” ruling for the first part of the Trump statement above. However, that’s not the only thing about what Trump said that was false. The TPP was released simultaneously with an agreement on, you guessed it, currency manipulation, which was lauded by trade experts as a historic achievement that met the goals Congress had set for the president’s negotiators. So, that’s really a twofer.