Posted by: maboulette | July 8, 2019

Fact Check: Trump Distorts Census, Obama-Biden Record

angry trump

President Donald Trump is stretching the truth in his legally questionable bid to get a citizenship question added to the 2020 census.  Brushing aside a Supreme Court ruling against him and his agencies saying it’s probably too late,  Trump is ordering that the question somehow be included anyway, insisting that it’s “almost always” been asked on the census.


That’s wrong. Over the nation’s history, the citizenship question has been left off the census questionnaire more times than not.


Meanwhile, anticipating the 2020 presidential race, Trump is distorting his record in his increasing attacks on the Obama administration, when Democratic candidate Joe Biden served as vice president. Trump falsely asserts that President Barack Obama made it a policy to separate migrant children from their parents when families were caught crossing the border illegally. The president also mangles the facts on tariffs and NATO in accusing Obama and Biden of getting bilked by China and European countries.


The mistruths came in a week in which Trump roused a political tempest when he decided to plant himself squarely in Independence Day observances with a speech from the Lincoln Memorial. The words from that speech ultimately proved measured but caused some befuddlement over American military history.

A look at recent claims:


TRUMP: “Think of it: 15 to 20 billion dollars, and you’re not allowed to ask them, ‘Are you a citizen?’ And, by the way, if you look at the history of our country, it’s almost always been asked. … Citizenship has been on that thing most of the time for many, many years. So it’s very shocking that, after spending $15 billion, it’s not on.” — remarks to reporters Friday at the White House.

KEN CUCCINELLI, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: “I think that if you look at what we’ve asked over the years, including, of course, the citizenship question, famously — asked many, many times through our history — we ask a lot of other information as well.” — interview on “Fox News Sunday.

THE FACTS:  Trump and his administration are incorrect in suggesting that citizenship status has been a default question in the census, having been “almost always” asked on the form.  The Census Bureau hasn’t included a citizenship question in its once-a-decade survey sent to all U.S. households since 1950, before the Civil Rights era and passage of a 1965 law designed to help ensure minority groups in the count are fully represented. The nation’s count is based on the total resident population — both citizens and noncitizens — and used to determine how many U.S. representatives each state gets in the U.S. House.

The Trump administration had argued that the question was being added to aid in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box. But a majority of the Supreme Court said last week that reasoning was “contrived.” The Justice Department had never previously sought a citizenship question in the 54-year history of the landmark voting rights law.

Actually out of the 23 censuses conducted in the U.S. since 1790, a citizenship question has only been asked 10 times — or 43% of the time.

That hardly amounts to “almost always.”


TRUMP: “Under President Obama, we had separation. … They had a separation policy. Right? I ended it.” — remarks June 29 in Japan.

TRUMP: “Well, as you know, President Obama had separation.” — remarks Friday to reporters.

THE FACTS:  He’s wrong. The separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents resulted from Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.  Obama had no such policy. After a public outcry and a court order, Trump generally ceased the practice.  Zero tolerance meant that U.S. authorities would criminally prosecute all adults caught crossing into the U.S. illegally. Doing so meant detention for adults and the removal of their children while their parents were in custody. During the Obama administration, such family separations were the exception. They became the practice under Trump’s policy.

Before Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, migrant families caught illegally entering the U.S. were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation, unless they were known to have a criminal record. Then and now, immigration officials may take a child from a parent in certain cases, such as serious criminal charges against a parent, concerns over the health and welfare of a child or medical concerns.


TRUMP:  “Tell Biden that NATO has taken total advantage of him and President Obama. They took it — we were paying for almost all of NATO. We’re protecting countries. Those countries have to protect themselves with us. They have to make a contribution. …Europe kills us on trade, which we’re changing, and Europe then kills us because we defend Europe. And we lose a tremendous amount of money.” — remarks Friday to reporters.

THE FACTS:   It’s not true that the U.S. was paying “almost all” the price of protecting Europe.  NATO has a shared budget to which each member makes contributions based on the size of its economy. The United States, with the biggest economy, pays the biggest share, about 22%.

Four European members — Germany, France, Britain and Italy — combined pay nearly 44% of the total. The money, about $3 billion, runs NATO’s headquarters and covers certain other civilian and military costs.

Defending Europe involves far more than that fund. The primary cost of doing so would come from each member country’s military budget, as the alliance operates under a mutual defense treaty.  The U.S. is the largest military spender but others in the alliance obviously have armed forces, too. The notion that almost all costs would fall to the U.S. is false. In fact, NATO’s Article 5, calling for allies to act if one is attacked, has only been invoked once, and it was on behalf of the U.S., after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


TRUMP: “You look at what Joe Biden has done with China. We’ve lost our shirts with China and now China is dying to make a deal. So — and we’re taking, by the way, billions and billions of dollars in tariffs are coming in — and China is paying for it, not our people.” — remarks Friday to reporters.

THE FACTS:  Actually, Americans are paying for it.

Trump refuses to recognize a reality that his own chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, has acknowledged. Tariffs are mainly if not entirely paid by companies and consumers in the country that imposes them. China is not sending billions of dollars to the U.S. treasury.

TRUMP: “The Economy is the BEST IT HAS EVER BEEN!” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: The economy is not one of the best in the country’s history. It expanded at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter of this year. That growth was the highest in just four years for the first quarter.  In the late 1990s, growth topped 4 percent for four straight years, a level it has not yet reached on an annual basis under Trump. Growth even reached 7.2 percent in 1984.

In fact, there are many signs that growth is slowing, partly because of Trump’s trade fights with China and Europe. Factory activity has decelerated for three straight months as global growth has slowed and companies are reining in their spending on large equipment.  Most economists forecast the economy will expand at just a 2% annual rate in the April-June period.


TRUMP: “Robert Mueller is being asked to testify yet again. He said he could only stick to the Report, & that is what he would and must do. After so much testimony & total transparency, this Witch Hunt must now end. No more Do Overs.” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS:  It’s highly questionable to say Trump was fully cooperative in the Russia investigation.  Trump declined to sit for an interview with the special counsel’s team, gave written answers that investigators described as “inadequate” and “incomplete,” said more than 30 times that he could not remember something he was asked about in writing, and — according to the report — tried to get aides to fire Mueller or otherwise shut or limit the inquiry.

In the end, the Mueller report found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia but left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice.  According to the report, Mueller’s team declined to make a prosecutorial judgment on whether to charge partly because of a Justice Department legal opinion that said sitting presidents shouldn’t be indicted. The report instead factually laid out instances in which Trump might have obstructed justice, specifically leaving it open for Congress to take up the matter.

A President that continues to lie or doesn’t know where the United States really stands on many issue should not be the President of this country. 

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