After surviving impeachment trial, Donald Trump returns to making inaccurate claims on Ukraine, New Mexico

President Donald Trump celebrated his acquittal by the Senate in meandering remarks made on Thursday, when he recited a familiar litany of falsehoods and misleading assertions about the impeachment trial against him, his political enemies and his own record. Here’s a fact check.

What Trump Said

A corrupt politician named Adam Schiff made up my statement to the Ukrainian president. He brought it out of thin air. Just made it up.

This is exaggerated. For months, Trump has decried a reenactment of his 25 July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine, read aloud by Representative Adam Schiff, D-California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

At a hearing in September, Schiff said he was conferring “the essence” of the conversation and later clarified that his summary of the call “was meant to be at least part in parody.” But he spoke in first person, leaving the impression that he was quoting Trump.

On Thursday, Trump took particular umbrage at one of Schiff’s erroneous lines in the parody: “By the way, don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.” According to the reconstructed transcript of the call, Trump said the opposite to Zelenskiy: “Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call.”

But while Schiff’s account at points veered from the transcript in chronology and details, it generally tracked with the transcript’s version of what Trump said on the call (for example, his description of Zelenskiy’s interest in a meeting and purchasing weapons, and Trump’s asking for a “favour”). It was not fabricated “out of thin air.”

What Trump Said

They said they didn’t add this word. I said, ‘Add it, they’re probably wrong, but add it.’ So now everyone agrees that they were perfectly accurate.

 After surviving impeachment trial, Donald Trump returns to making inaccurate claims on Ukraine, New Mexico

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington on Thursday. By Anna Moneymaker © 2020 The New York Times

This is exaggerated. Trump was referring inaccurately to testimony from Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander S Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council who heard Trump’s call with Zelenskiy. Vindman said that the reconstructed transcript included a few omissions, and that he had tried to make some changes. Some edits were successful, he said, but two “substantive” corrections were not made.

On the fourth page of the transcript, Trump said former vice-president Joe Biden “went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into that …”

According to his notes, Vindman said, the ellipses took the place of Trump saying “there are recordings.”

On that same page, the transcript recorded Zelenskiy promising that Ukraine’s next prosecutor general would “look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue.”

But Zelenskiy explicitly said Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where Biden’s son worked, and not “the company,” according to Vindman.

What Trump Said

I think that’s when Comey announced he was leaking, lying and everything else, right?

False. As Trump praised Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, he claimed that Grassley’s questioning of James Comey, the former FBI director, in May 2017 resulted in Comey confessing to the misdeeds Trump has long accused him of. But Comey had said the exact opposite, denying that he had leaked classified information:

Grassley: “Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the [Hillary] Clinton investigation?”
Comey: “Never.”
Grassley: “Question two, relatively related, have you ever authorised someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”
Comey “No.”
Grassley: “Has any classified information relating to Trump or his association — associates been declassified and shared with the media?”
Comey: “Not to my knowledge.”

What Trump Said

Tell me, why isn’t Germany paying money? Why isn’t France? Why isn’t United Kingdom paying money? Why aren’t they paying money? Why are we paying the money?

This is misleading. Trump was talking about international aid to Ukraine. Those European countries are, in fact, contributing to Ukraine’s efforts to counteract Russian aggression. They provide more development and humanitarian aid to Ukraine than the US does, though the US is the largest provider of military assistance.

European countries have contributed $1.6 billion in development assistance from 2014 to 2017, compared with $807 million from the US, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

What Trump Said

We just won two seats in North Carolina, two wonderful seats in North Carolina that were not supposed to be won.

This is exaggerated. Two Republicans, Representatives Dan Bishop and Greg Murphy, won their special House elections in September. Contrary to Trump’s claim that his party pulled off upset victories, both districts were conservative strongholds.

Republicans have held Bishop’s district, North Carolina’s 9th, since the 1960s. Murphy won his seat after the February 2019 death of Walter B Jones Jr, a Republican who had represented the 3rd District since 1995. Trump carried both congressional districts by wide margins of 12 percent and 24 percent.

What Trump Said

We are putting up walls in New Mexico, too; a state that has never been in play for Republicans is totally in play, right?

This is exaggerated. Trump has a point that the state has largely voted for Democratic presidential candidates in the past two decades, but he goes too far to say it has “never been in play for Republicans.”

Since New Mexico became a state in 1912, it voted for 15 Democratic presidential candidates and 12 Republican candidates, most recently George W Bush in 2004. According to the University of Virginia’s Centre for Politics, the state currently leans Democratic for the 2020 presidential election.

What Trump Said

Matt said, like five years ago, six years ago, and I made a speech. And then they do some kind of a straw poll. Who made the best speech? And he said I made the best speech.

False. Trump was addressing Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. But he had never won the straw poll at CPAC before he became president.

Ron Paul, a libertarian and former Texas congressman, won in 2011, and Trump, a write-in candidate who received about one percent of the votes, did not crack the top 15. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah won in 2012; Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky in 2013, 2014 (Trump tied for 14th place) and 2015 (Trump came in eighth place); and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in 2016 (Trump came in third).

CPAC retired the poll for 2017 and 2018, but Trump did come in first place in 2019 with 82 percent of the votes, with Romney trailing in second at six percent.

What Trump Said

We had first time in 51 years where drug prices actually came down last year, first time in 51 years.

This is misleading. The Consumer Price Index for prescription drugs has declined under Trump, most recently in September. But that measure does not include all prescription drugs. Nor was it the “first time in 51 years” that the index had declined — it did so as well in December 2013, under the Barack Obama administration. And it has risen since September.

Other analyses show that drug prices have continued to rise, albeit at a slower rate than in the past. GoodRx, a website that tracks costs, has found that 639 drugs have so far increased by an average of six percent. That’s in line with other surveys from 3 Axis Advisors, a consultancy firm that estimated an average rise of 5.3 percent this year, and Rx Savings Solutions, a company that advises employers on how to reduce drug costs, which found an average 6.9 percent increase on more than 2,500 drugs.

Linda Qiu c.2020 The New York Times Company

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Updated Date: Feb 07, 2020 08:06:50 IST