The truth behind the rhetoric
Trifecta goes to Trump University claims
It’s been a particularly Donald Trump-filled week at The Fact Checker, with the real estate mogul on track to win enough delegates for the Republican presidential nomination after dominating Super Tuesday.
We looked into the ongoing saga over Trump University, a now-defunct program that promised to help attendees get insider knowledge about the real estate business from instructors “hand-picked” by Trump. A conservative, politically active non-profit launched a series of ads that earned the coveted Geppetto Checkmark, for accurately depicting complaints of three Trump University “students” who fell for the program’s bait-and-switch operation, designed to lure people into paying increasing sums of money.
Trump boasts that Trump University had an A rating from the Better Business Bureau, but it actually rated a D-minus, its second lowest grade. Trump insisted that 98 percent of attendees “approved [of] the courses. They thought they were terrific.” But this is not a credible figure and worthy of Three Pinocchios, since it is based on surveys taken after the initial presentation. Attendees filled out the non-anonymous survey before they could see any results.
Trump’s claims over Trump University earned him the “Fact-checkers Trifecta,” reserved for when the three major fact-checking organizations (FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, The Washington Post Fact Checker) debunk the same claim. FactCheck.org found his claims “false and misleading” and PolitiFact rated his claim about BBB’s supposed “A” grade as False.
Trump’s ‘small loan’ from his father wasn’t that small
When Marco Rubio isn’t attacking Trump’s various physical attributes or spelling errors, he likes to take a jab at Trump’s inheritance that helped him get ahead. Trump often responds to this attack by saying he received a “very, very small loan” from his father (also a wealthy real estate developer) that he turned into billions, and “it wasn’t easy for me.”
The Fact Checker took a deep dive into publicly available records of Trump’s inheritance. We pay never know the exact figure, but Trump’s claim that he built a real-estate fortune out of a “small” $1 million loan is simply not credible. Trump benefited from many loans, guarantees and connections through his father. His father even bailed him out when Trump’s casinos ran into trouble. Trump received Four (More) Pinocchios.
Fact-checking Thursday’s GOP debate
The GOP slugfest started with a salacious remark by Trump, had lots of zingers (about yoga and counting to 10, of all things) and featured real-time fact-checking by the moderators who came prepared with facts to counter candidates’ rhetoric.
Check out our “Snap-check” of Thursday’s GOP debate on The Washington Post’s Snapchat account (“washingtonpost”). You can view it until Saturday morning, since Snapchat stories last for 24 hours. Not on Snapchat? Watch the video here.
We fact-checked 14 claims from the debate. Below are four of them. Read the rest here.
“I have spent most of my life in law enforcement.”—Ted Cruz
Cruz is exaggerating his law-enforcement credentials. To claim that “most” of his adult life was spent in law enforcement really suggests at least half of his career, whereas the best-case scenario would be one-third, primarily from his 5 ½ years as Texas Solicitor General. Even then, he was never a prosecutor or litigated criminal cases — and in private practice, he certainly defended criminals.
In particular, during his nearly five years at Morgan Lewis, Cruz headed the appeals practice. That means he was mostly advocating on behalf of people or companies that had lost earlier cases in which they had been charged with criminal or suspect behavior.
The Dallas Morning News, in an article about his last year in private practice, says his clients included “a businessman who pleaded guilty to bribery, a drug manufacturer that fired an employee who refused to break the law, and a company that illegally copied another’s tire design.”
“This guy has the number one absentee record in the United States Senate.”
Trump’s attack against Marco Rubio has merit.
In 2015, Rubio missed 35.4 percent (120 of 339) of votes, the highest among all senators.
It’s not unusual for senators running for president to miss a large portion of their votes. The top three missed votes in 2015 were held by three senators who were running for president: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was the second highest,missing 28 percent (96 of 339) of votes. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the third highest, missing 24 percent (80 of 339) of votes.
Of the other senators running for president in 2016, Rubio has had the highest percentage (41 percent) of missed votes between March 5, 2015 and March 3, 2016. The second was Cruz (36 percent), third was Graham (32 percent). Compare that to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who missed 62 percent and 45 percent of their votes respectively in a similar time period while running for president (March 1, 2007 and Feb. 28, 2008).
So far in 2016, though, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has the lowest voting record,missing 97 percent between January and March 2016. Cruz was a close second after Sanders, missing 93 percent. Rubio missed 90 percent, and placed just behind Cruz.
Marco Rubio: “Vladimir Putin, who you’ve expressed admiration for, Donald…”Trump: “Wrong. Wrong.”Rubio: “You’ve expressed admiration for him.”Trump: “Wrong.”Rubio: “Donald, you said he’s a strong leader.”Trump: “Wrong.”
Rubio is correct and Trump is wrong. In December, in an interview with MSNBC, Trump said he believed the relationship would change if he was elected: “I think it would be good. I’ve always felt fine about Putin, I think that he’s a strong leader, he’s a powerful leader.” Trump cited the high opinion polls of Putin in Russia (where independent media is muzzled) as a sign he was well-respected.
When Putin called Trump “very talented,” Trump responded: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
“I’m not only talking about drugs, I’m talking about other things. We will save $300 billion a year if we properly negotiate. We don’t do that. We don’t negotiate. We don’t negotiate anything.”—Trump
This is the first time that Trump has said that his repeated claim that he would save $300 billion on prescription drugs in Medicare actually was supposed to mean negotiating for a range of products in the Medicare system. As we have noted previously, his earlier statements made no sense because total spending in Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) in 2014 was $78 billion.
But the $300 billion pledge doesn’t make much sense either. Projected Medicare spending in 2016 is $560 billion, so Trump unrealistically is claiming he will cut spending nearly 55 percent.
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