Fact check: Trump and Clinton deny their own words in debate


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Donald Trump’s habit of peddling hype and fabrication emerged unabated in the first presidential debate while Hillary Clinton played it cautiously in her statements, though not without error. They both denied making statements that they are on the record as saying.

A look at some of the claims in the debate and how they compare with the facts:

TRUMP, denying Clinton’s accusation that he supported the Iraq war: “Wrong. Wrong.” Later: “That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her. I was against the war in Iraq.”

THE FACTS: There is no evidence Trump expressed public opposition to the war before the U.S. invaded, despite his repeated insistence that he did. Rather, he offered lukewarm support. He only began to voice doubts about the conflict well after it began in March 2003.

His first known public comment on the topic came on Sept. 11, 2002, when he was asked whether he supported a potential Iraq invasion in an interview with radio host Howard Stern. “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump responded.

On March 21, 2003, just days after the invasion began, Trump said it “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”

Later that year he began voicing doubts.

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CLINTON, denying Trump’s accusation that she called the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the “gold standard” of trade agreements: “I did say I hoped it would be a good deal.”

THE FACTS: Trump is correct. On a 2012 trip to Australia as secretary of state, Clinton called the deal that was taking shape the “gold standard” of trade agreements. She championed it in other venues around the world. She did not merely express the hope it would turn out well.

Clinton flip-flopped into opposing the trade deal in the Democratic primary when facing Bernie Sanders, who was strongly opposed to it.

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TRUMP, when Clinton accused him of calling climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese: “I did not say that.”

THE FACTS: Yes he did, in the form of a 2012 tweet: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He later claimed he was kidding, but he’s also repeated the claim that climate change is a hoax, and one that benefits China.

He tweeted in January 2014: “Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!”

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TRUMP: “I’ve been under audit for almost 15 years.”

THE FACTS: Trump has never provided evidence to the public that he is actually under audit. A letter released by his tax attorneys never used the word, merely describing his tax returns under continuous examination. That is not a formal term for any kind of action by the Internal Revenue Service.

Trump has declined to provide the IRS’ formal notice of audit to The Associated Press and other news outlets. And former IRS officials have expressed skepticism that anyone would be audited so frequently. Trump cites an audit as the reason he won’t release his tax returns.

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CLINTON, as part of a list of economy-building moves, called for “making college debt free so more young people can get their education.”

THE FACTS: Clinton has proposed making college tuition free for in-state students who go to a public college or university. But tuition free doesn’t equate to debt free.

Under her plan, the government would pay for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities for students from families earning less than $125,000 a year. That would leave students still bearing the cost of room and board, which makes up more than half of the average $18,943 sticker price at a four-year public university, according to the College Board.

Experts worry about other effects: Will colleges raise tuition once the government starts paying, increasing the cost to taxpayers? Will more students flock to public colleges because of the subsidy, also raising costs?

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TRUMP to Clinton: “You’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.”

THE FACTS: Hillary Clinton was born in 1947 and is 68 years old. She reached adulthood in 1965. The Islamic State group grew out of an al-Qaida spinoff, al-Qaida in Iraq in 2013, the year Clinton left the State Department.

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TRUMP: “My father gave me a small loan in 1975.”

THE FACTS: Trump got a whole lot more than a small loan. Aside from $1 million in financing from his father, Trump received loan guarantees, bailouts and a drawdown from his future inheritance. Tim O’Brien noted in a 2005 book that Trump not only drew an additional $10 million from his future inheritance during hard times, but also inherited a share of his father’s real estate holdings, which were worth hundreds of millions when they were eventually sold off.

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TRUMP: “You don’t learn a lot from tax returns.”

THE FACTS: Americans stand to learn plenty if he releases his tax returns like other presidential candidates have done.

They would provide vital information about his wealth, taxes paid, tax avoidance efforts, exact amounts of real estate holdings and charitable donations that can’t be gleaned from any other source. For these reasons, every major party candidate for the last 40 years has released at least a few years of recent tax returns.

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TRUMP: “Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries. ... Ford is leaving, thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio.” He added, “They’re leaving, and they’re leaving in bigger numbers than ever.”

THE FACTS: There are no official data on job flows between countries. However, the U.S. economy has added nearly 14.9 million jobs since 2010, when the economy bottomed out after the recession.

Since GM and Chrysler declared bankruptcy, the auto industry in particular has recovered and resumed hiring. The industry has added 300,000 jobs since June 2009, when the recession ended. Ford has announced it is moving production of small autos to Mexico, but the company maintains that it won’t cut any U.S. jobs because it will make other vehicles at the affected plant.

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TRUMP: “A trade deficit of almost ... $800 billion a year.”

THE FACTS: The trade deficit was actually $500 billion in 2015, certainly large but a lot lower than Trump’s figure. The deficit peaked at $761.7 billion in 2006, according to the Commerce Department.

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