Fact-checking President Trump’s CPAC speech

Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

Here’s a roundup of some of the 13 of Trump’s more dubious claims he made at CPAC 2017:

“I saw one story recently where they said, ‘Nine people have confirmed.’ There are no nine people. I don’t believe there was one or two people. Nine people. . . . They make up sources.”

Trump is referring to a Washington Post article that disclosed that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials. The Post report prompted a firestorm that led to Flynn’s firing by Trump, because it turned out that Flynn had misled Vice President Pence and other administration officials about whether he had discussed sanctions.

The article cited information provided by “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.” (Calls by the Russian ambassador are monitored by intelligence agencies.) No White House official has disputed the accuracy of the article — and indeed, it resulted in Flynn’s departure from the administration.

“The dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people. The fake news. They dropped off the word ‘fake.’ And all of a sudden the story became the media is the enemy.”

Trump is making a distinction without a difference. This is the tweet in question:

Trump listed five mainstream media organizations — the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN — as the “FAKE NEWS media” and declared that they are the enemy of the American people. By listing major media organizations as the enemy, Trump was clearly making a statement about the broader news media. (Another article: White House blocks CNN, New York Times from press briefing hours after Trump slams media.) Can you say ‘media control by government’ as it is in China and Russia?

“In the Middle East, we’ve spent, as of four weeks ago, $6 trillion. Think of it.”

Trump is lumping together the wars in Iraq (in the Middle East) and Afghanistan (in South Asia), which together cost about $1.6 trillion from 2001 to 2014. He is also adding in estimates of future spending, such as interest on the debt and veterans care for the next three decades.

“Obamacare covers very few people — and remember, deduct from the number all of the people that had great health care that they loved that was taken away from them. It was taken away from them.”

Trump essentially repeats a false GOP talking point that previously earned Four Pinocchios. The Obama administration calculated that about 20 million people have gained health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, a figure that seems reasonable. Meanwhile, the number of plans that were canceled is far lower, though there appears to be no research that has determined exactly how many people had their policies canceled because the health insurance did not comply with the ACA.

An estimated 2.6 million people received notices of cancellations, but there was such an outcry over reports of cancellations that the Obama administration rushed to issue waivers that would allow people to keep their plans. Forty states accepted the waiver policy — which in most cases remains in effect until December 2017. So a vast majority of the people who might have received notices actually were able to keep their plans, even up until today.

It’s important to remember that the individual insurance market has a lot of ebb and flow, with people moving in and out of it as they change jobs, so the odds are many people who might have been affected by plan terminations would have already switched plans. One study found that in the 2008-to-2011 period, only 42 percent of policyholders in the non-group market retained that coverage after 12 months, with many moving to an employer-provided plan when obtaining a new job.

“ICE came and endorsed me. They never endorsed a presidential candidate before. They might not even be allowed to.”

This is one of Trump’s favorite claims. Federal agencies can’t endorse political candidates. The unions representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Border Patrol agents did endorse Trump. Both groups said Trump was their first-ever endorsement. But they did not do so unanimously. The National Border Patrol Council endorsement was based on the vote of 11 union leaders, which sparked controversy among union members. Agents in El Paso, in a 14-to-13 vote, narrowly failed to have the local union disavow the endorsement.

Read all 13 of Trump’s dubious claims he made in his CPAC speech. Read it while you can, because if Donald Trump continues his silencing of the free press you may soon only have news as published through the extreme right.

Remember, Donald Trump only likes good news about himself.

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