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AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s distorted reality in expanding probes

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On this Dec. 11, 2018, photograph, President Donald Trump meets with Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Home Minority Chief Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the Oval Workplace of the White Home in Washington. (AP Photograph/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump retains altering his story in the swirling investigations into Russia election interference and hush cash funds to ladies who say that they had affairs with him.

He insists that funds to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy mannequin Karen McDougal through the 2016 marketing campaign have been “private transactions” and that any crime dedicated can be the fault of his former private lawyer, Michael Cohen, not him. That’s a change from what the president stated earlier than. Trump beforehand had denied information of funds and dismissed any trace of a criminal offense.

Within the particular counsel’s probe into contacts between Russia and the Trump marketing campaign, Trump tried to forged doubt on whether or not his former nationwide safety adviser, Michael Flynn, had lied to the FBI. Flynn in reality pleaded responsible to doing simply that.

Over the previous week, Trump additionally made a flurry of false or unsupported statements about immigration. He stated, with no proof, that migrants are plagued with illness. He asserted that Mexico has in impact agreed to pay for his border wall, whilst he threatens a partial authorities shutdown if Congress doesn’t approve billions of dollars to construct it. He twisted federal statistics to say the current arrest of 10 terrorists who don’t exist.

A take a look at the claims:



TRUMP: “Remember, Michael Cohen only became a ‘Rat’ after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started. They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE!” — tweet Sunday.

THE FACTS: It was not a break-in. The FBI executed a search warrant obtained from a decide in conducting the raid and seizing data on quite a lot of issues, amongst them a $130,000 cost made to porn actress Stormy Daniels by Trump’s lawyer, Cohen. The appliance for the warrant was permitted excessive in the Justice Division.

Former FBI director James Comey tweeted in response Sunday that Trump is “lying about the lawful execution of a search warrant issued by a federal judge.”


TRUMP: “I never directed him to do anything wrong. Whatever he did, he did on his own.” — interview Thursday with Fox Information.

TRUMP: “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law … many campaign finance lawyers have strongly stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance.” — tweets Thursday.

TRUMP: “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,…which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced.” — tweets Dec. 10.

THE FACTS: Regardless of the fact, his account is evolving. Trump’s description of the funds as a “simple private transaction” — which he couples together with his insistence that “did nothing wrong” with respect to marketing campaign finance legal guidelines — just isn’t how he defined it just some months in the past.

In April, Trump issued a blanket denial that he knew something about stories of $130,000 in hush-money paid to Daniels, saying reporters would “have to ask Michael Cohen.” A month later, he then acknowledged the funds as a “private contract.” Trump is now saying if one thing felony occurred, it might be solely Cohen’s fault as his former lawyer.

Each Cohen and American Media Inc., the corporate that owns the Nationwide Enquirer tabloid, say they made hush-money funds to Daniels and McDougal for the aim of serving to Trump’s 2016 White Home bid, a marketing campaign finance violation. Each ladies alleged that they had extramarital affairs with Trump, which the White Home denies. Federal prosecutors say the funds have been made at Trump’s course.

For the funds themselves to be a criminal offense quite than a civil infraction, prosecutors would wish to point out that Trump knew that what he was doing was mistaken when he directed Cohen to pay the ladies and that he did so with the objective of benefiting his marketing campaign.

It’s unclear what federal prosecutors in New York will determine to do in the event that they conclude that there’s proof that Trump himself dedicated a criminal offense. Within the meantime, Trump’s altering model of the reality is operating head-on into information agreed to by prosecutors.



TRUMP: “Wow, 19,000 Texts between Lisa Page and her lover, Peter S of the FBI, in charge of the Russia Hoax, were just reported as being wiped clean and gone. Such a big story that will never be covered by the Fake News. Witch Hunt!” — tweet Saturday.

THE FACTS: The Justice Division’s watchdog, in a report launched Thursday, discovered no proof the FBI deliberately destroyed textual content messages of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Web page, who have been concerned in the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation once they labored for the bureau.

The inspector basic faulted an FBI-wide software program failure that has resulted in giant parts of FBI textual content messages not being archived.

The report examined a niche in messages from December 2016 via Might 2017 from the telephones of Strzok and Web page. The FBI finally managed to get well hundreds of the messages.

Some congressional Republicans had instructed the messages have been deliberately deleted. The inspector common report stated there was no proof Strzok and Web page circumvented protocol. Strzok was faraway from particular counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after anti-Trump texts have been found. He has since been fired. Web page resigned.


TRUMP: “Well the FBI said Michael Flynn, a general and a great person, they said he didn’t lie. And Mueller said: ‘Well, maybe he did.’ And now they’re all having a big dispute, so I think it’s a great thing that the judge is looking into that situation. It’s an honor for a lot of terrific people.” — remarks Thursday.

THE FACTS: That’s not what the FBI stated. And Flynn, Trump’s former nationwide safety adviser, has agreed that he lied to the FBI. He pleaded responsible to it and is to be sentenced this week — the primary White Home official punished as a part of particular counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation.

The concept Flynn didn’t misinform the FBI picked up steam after Republicans on the Home intelligence committee issued a report this yr that stated ex-FBI director James Comey, in a personal briefing, advised lawmakers that brokers who interviewed Flynn “discerned no physical indications of deception” and noticed “nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them.” However Comey referred to as that description “garble” in a personal interview with Home lawmakers this month.

Comey, in essence, stated Flynn was a very good liar, having a “natural conversation” with brokers, “answered fully their questions, didn’t avoid. That notwithstanding, they concluded he was lying.”

As for Trump’s remark that the decide is wanting into the matter, it’s true U.S. District Decide Emmet Sullivan has requested for paperwork associated to the brokers who interviewed Flynn. It’s not clear from Sullivan’s order whether or not he considers there to be a dispute to resolve or if he simply needs to see the underlying paperwork as he decides Flynn’s sentence.



TRUMP: “The Democrats policy of Child Seperation (sic) on the Border during the Obama Administration was far worse than the way we handle it now. Remember the 2014 picture of children in cages – the Obama years.” — tweet Sunday.

THE FACTS: Democratic President Barack Obama didn’t have a separation coverage. The Trump administration didn’t, explicitly, both, however that was the impact of his zero tolerance coverage, which meant that anybody caught crossing the border illegally was to be criminally prosecuted, even these with few or no earlier offences.

The coverage meant adults have been taken to courtroom for felony proceedings and their youngsters have been separated. Typically, if the cost took longer than 72 hours to course of, which is the longest time that youngsters could be held by Customs and Border Safety, youngsters have been despatched into the care of the Well being and Human Providers Division. Zero tolerance stays in impact, however Trump signed an government order June 20 that stopped separations.

Trump additionally misrepresents 2014 pictures of youngsters in holding cells. They didn’t contain household separation.

The pictures, taken by The Related Press through the Obama administration, confirmed youngsters who got here to the border with out their mother and father and have been being housed at a Customs and Border Safety middle in Nogales, Arizona. The photographs have been recognized as such however wrongly described on-line as illustrating imprisonment beneath Trump.


TRUMP: “People with tremendous medical difficulty and medical problems are pouring in, and in many — in many cases it’s contagious. They’re pouring into our country. We have to have border security.” — assertion in Oval Workplace assembly Tuesday with Democratic leaders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer.

THE FACTS: Trump offered no proof that folks coming into the nation, together with the caravan on the U.S.-Mexico border, are carrying contagious illnesses at a better price than the U.S. inhabitants. Medical screening is a part of the method for vetting individuals who search asylum.

A research revealed this month by the UCL-Lancet Fee on Migration and Well being referred to as scares about contagion probably the most pervasive myths about migrants. The research discovered no proof that migrants pose a big public well being danger to nations such because the U.S. which have good well being techniques. The truth is, migrants themselves face well being threats from arduous journeys, violence alongside the best way, or overcrowding in shelters or camps, the Lancet fee stated. Whereas some might come from areas the place sure illnesses are widespread, the report famous that worldwide tourism and motion of animals unfold sickness, too.

As for the caravan and different migrants from the south, World Financial institution statistics present Mexico and Central America vaccinate most youngsters towards measles, typically at a bit greater price than the U.S. Alongside the border between Mexico and California, public well being departments have lengthy had a system in place to observe for indicators of outbreaks of quite a lot of sicknesses, whether or not they’re immigration-related or not.


TRUMP: “Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way.” — tweet Tuesday.

TRUMP: “We need border security. People are pouring into our country, including terrorists. We have terrorists. But we caught 10 terrorists. These are over the last very short period of time — 10. These are very serious people.” — assertion in Oval Workplace assembly.

THE FACTS: Trump contradicted himself, declaring the border safe and insecure on the identical day. And Trump is improper concerning the authorities just lately catching 10 terrorists.

His assertion is a mangling of federal statistics displaying that U.S. Customs and Border Safety stopped a mean of seven to 10 individuals a day in the 2017 price range yr who have been denied entry to the U.S. as a result of they have been on a watch listing. That common utilized to all factors of entry, and overwhelmingly from airports, and was not particular to the southern border. The usual for putting somebody on the listing is cheap suspicion, a decrease bar than the possible trigger wanted to arrest somebody for an alleged crime. The statistics don’t present what number of may need been arrested or charged with something.

In any occasion, Trump rendered a day by day common as 10 just lately captured terrorists in the flesh.

As for border safety, U.S. arrests on the Mexican border jumped 78 % in November from a yr earlier to the very best degree in Trump’s presidency. Elevated arrests point out that extra individuals are making an attempt to cross the border illegally.



PELOSI: “We came at a place to say, ‘How do we meet the needs of American people who have needs?’ The economy has — people are losing their jobs.” — Oval Workplace assembly.

TRUMP: “Well, we have the lowest unemployment that we’ve had in 50 years.” — Oval Workplace assembly.

THE FACTS: Trump is right about jobs.

There might all the time be some layoffs even when the financial system is robust. Basic Motors, as an example, stated final month it will minimize as many as 14,000 staff in North America in a restructuring aimed toward producing money to spend on innovation, regardless that U.S. auto gross sales are close to historic highs.

However the U.S. financial system has now added jobs for a report 98 straight months, courting to October 2010, in the course of the Obama administration.

The Labor Division reported the unemployment fee in November stayed at three.7 %, a five-decade low, for the third straight month.

The job features are pushing down unemployment charges to traditionally low ranges for quite a lot of teams. The unemployment fee for males aged 20 and above fell final month to three.three %, the bottom in 18 years. The speed for People with simply highschool diplomas dropped to three.5 %, the bottom since December 2000. The African-American jobless price declined to five.9 %, matching Might’s determine because the lowest on document.

That’s making it tougher for companies to seek out the employees they want. Employers have posted 7 million open jobs, outnumbering the ranks of the unemployed, which fell final month to only underneath 6 million.



TRUMP: “I often stated, ‘One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.’ This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: This can be a face-saving assertion to masks the truth that Mexico refused to pay for a U.S. border wall, Trump gave up making an attempt to make it achieve this and U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for it.

In essence, Trump is arguing that new phrases of commerce with Mexico will improve financial progress in the U.S. and produce extra tax income. That’s what everybody hopes commerce agreements will do. As a part of that, he hopes for a decrease commerce deficit with Mexico. Neither end result is assured.

The deal negotiated with Mexico and Canada is an replace of the North American Free Commerce Settlement he railed towards, not a transformative pact. The three nations will proceed buying and selling in an surroundings of primarily low or no tariffs, with enhancements right here and there for all three companions. There isn’t a credible method for Trump to forecast further progress overlaying prices which might be being charged to U.S. taxpayers if the wall is constructed. Commerce balances rely upon too many elements — shopper tastes, trade charges, general financial efficiency, and the alternatives of hundreds of corporations amongst them — and a few are properly outdoors any authorities’s management.

Trump particularly promised in the marketing campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. That isn’t the identical as making an attempt to scale back the U.S. commerce deficit, which is concerning the change of products and providers amongst personal entities quite than funds between governments. Neither is a commerce deficit essentially a penalty on shoppers. It’s the results of shoppers shopping for issues made in one other nation.

He needs some $25 billion from Congress for wall development over 5 years and guarantees a partial authorities shutdown if he doesn’t get a $5 billion or so portion in the subsequent week. Congress might or might not give him that. If it does, it won’t be as a result of lawmakers anticipate a refund to the treasury in future years from additional progress produced by a commerce deal.


TRUMP: “Tremendous amounts of wall have already been built.” — assertion in assembly Tuesday with Pelosi and Schumer.

TRUMP: “People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built.” ”We’ve already constructed giant new sections & absolutely renovated others, making them like new.” — tweets.

THE FACTS: Large parts of the wall haven’t been constructed. Sure, some barrier renovation has occurred, however little wall development has been accomplished beneath Trump.

Congress allotted roughly $1.four billion in the spring — a bit greater than 5 % of what Trump needed — for border safety and specified that the cash was not for use for development of the prototype wall sections that stand close to San Diego. As an alternative, the cash is to strengthen or substitute present fencing with safer fencing.

Altogether, Trump promised in the marketing campaign that he’d construct a 1,000-mile (1,600 kilometer-) wall, as excessive as 40 ft or 12 meters (and have Mexico pay for it, which isn’t occurring). If some 650 miles (1,zero50 km) of present fencing are thought-about in the equation, that leaves him with about 350 miles (560 km) of wall to construct.


Related Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Eric Tucker, Chad Day, Lauran Neergaard, Josh Boak, Matthew Daly and Colleen Lengthy in Washington, and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.


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