Fact check: Trump makes at least 25 false claims at Wisconsin rally

And repeating at least 25 of his usual false claims.

Trump claimed again that Biden would “destroy protections for pre-existing conditions.” He later said that he, Trump, would “always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”

Facts First: This is not only false but a complete reversal of reality. The protections for people with pre-existing conditions were created by the very Obama administration in which Biden served as vice president — as part of Obamacare, the 2010 law Biden has vowed to preserve and strengthen if elected President.

Trump, conversely, has tried repeatedly to get bills passed that would have weakened these protections. He is now trying to get the entirety of Obamacare struck down by the courts.

Veterans Choice

Trump claimed again that he is the one who got the Veterans Choice health care program passed.

Facts First: President Barack Obama signed the Choice program into law in 2014; it was an initiative of two senators Trump has repeatedly criticized, Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain. In 2018, Trump signed a law, the VA MISSION Act, that expanded and modified the Choice program.

“Acid washed” emails

Trump claimed again that Hillary Clinton had both deleted and “acid washed” emails.

Facts First: “Acid washed” emails are not a real thing. A company working for Clinton deleted some emails in 2015 using a free software program called BleachBit; Trump has, for years now, turned “bleach” into “acid.”

The estate tax

Trump claimed again that he “got rid of” the estate tax.

Facts First: Trump has not eliminated the federal estate tax. His 2017 tax law raised the threshold at which the tax must be paid, from $5.5 million to $11.2 million for an individual, but did not get rid of the tax entirely.

Trump began by saying that he “virtually” eliminated the tax, not completely eliminated it, but that’s still an exaggeration. And then he added, “We got rid of it.”

Harris and Biden

Trump spoke again about disputes between Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris when they were rivals during the Democratic primary: “She accused him of — that he was a racist, right? That he was a racist.”

Facts First: Harris criticized Biden during a June 2019 debate for having spoken positively about his past work with two segregationist senators, saying this was “hurtful,” but she began her remarks by explicitly saying, “I do not believe you are a racist.”

CNN cameras

Trump repeated his regular suggestion that CNN turns off its cameras at his rallies when he criticizes CNN, saying he can see the red lights go off on cameras at the back of the room.

Facts First: CNN does not turn off its cameras when he criticizes CNN, and CNN’s photojournalists at his rallies do not use any red light when they are recording.

Penalties for damaging monuments

Trump said he had found an old law under which “you get 10 years in prison if you knock down a statue or a monument.”

Facts First: Ten years is far from a guaranteed penalty under the two laws Trump might have been referring to. Rather, it is a maximum discretionary sentence a judge could choose to impose but also could choose not to; judges are also free to impose fines on guilty people.

Tariffs on China

Trump claimed again that China is paying the billions in tariff revenue Trump’s administration has distributed to farmers.

Facts First: Study after study has found that Americans are bearing the cost of these tariffs. And American importers, not Chinese exporters, make the actual tariff payments to the US government.

The history of tariffs on China

Trump said the US had never before received “10 cents” from China.

Facts First: Again, it’s not true that China is paying the tariffs — and Trump’s claim that the Treasury has never received “10 cents” from tariffs on China is also false. The US has had tariffs on China for more than two centuries; Obama imposed new tariffs on China; FactCheck.org reported that the US generated an “average of $12.3 billion in custom duties a year from 2007 to 2016, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission DataWeb.”
China also made tens of billions of annual purchases of US exports under Obama — more than $100 billion in goods purchases every year from 2011 through 2016.”

The legitimacy of polling

Trump said polls that showed him trailing in 2016 were “suppression polls” designed to deflate his supporters.

Facts First: There is simply no evidence that any major scientific poll was manipulated to hurt Trump.

Judicial vacancies

Trump said of the federal judiciary: “I want to thank President Obama. He left us 142 openings.”

Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. There were 104 court vacancies on January 1, 2017, 19 days before Trump took office, according to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments.

The history of judicial vacancies

Trump continued by saying again that other presidents were not left any judicial vacancies at all: “Nobody gets left one opening; a federal judgeship is a big deal. Nobody gets left any openings.”

Facts First: It’s not true that presidents are usually left no openings. According to Wheeler, there were 53 vacancies on January 1, 2009, just before Obama took office; 80 vacancies on January 1, 2001, just before George W. Bush took office; 107 vacancies on January 1, 1993, just before Bill Clinton took office.

Travel restrictions on China and Europe

Trump claimed again that he “banned” travel from China and Europe to combat the pandemic.

Facts First: While Trump did restrict travel from China and from much of Europe, neither policy was a “ban”: both made exemptions for travel from US citizens, permanent residents, many of their families, and some others — and the restrictions on Europe exempted entire European countries.

The Iran deal

Trump said again that the Obama administration’s nuclear deal gave Iran $150 billion.

Facts First: The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran allowed Iran to access tens of billions in its own assets — not US government money — that had been frozen in foreign financial institutions because of sanctions; experts say the total was significantly lower than $150 billion.


Trump said again that NASA was “closed down” under Obama.

Facts First: Trump is entitled to criticize Obama’s handling of NASA, but it’s a clear exaggeration to say NASA was “closed down.” A launch Trump attended in June, in which NASA astronauts were aboard a private company’s spacecraft, was the product of a commercial crew program created under Obama.

“It is NOT correct that NASA was dead under the Obama administration,” said John Logsdon, the founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, where he is a professor emeritus, and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council; “much was started, like the commercial crew program.”

Charter schools

Trump claimed Biden has “vowed to ban charter schools.”

Facts First: Biden has not vowed to ban charter schools. Rather, a task force appointed by Biden and his former rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, proposed to ban for-profit charter schools in particular from receiving federal funding.

The task force took a skeptical approach to charters more broadly, but it did not propose anything close to a complete ban.

A Democratic primary in New York

Railing against mail-in voting, Trump said again that “they can’t even find the ballots” in a New York Democratic congressional primary won by Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Facts First: It’s not true that the ballots have gone missing in this primary. There was a legal dispute about the fact that a large number of ballots were rejected for non-fraud reasons, such as missing signatures, but those ballots didn’t vanish.

The Green New Deal and planes

Trump claimed again that the Democrats’ Green New Deal proposal would mean “getting rid of your planes. No more airplane trips.”

Facts First: The Green New Deal does not call for the elimination of planes. The resolution calls for “overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
Trump was likely referring to a “FAQ” document that appeared on the website of a leading Green New Deal proponent, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — but that document, which was quickly deleted, was never endorsed by the other backers of the Green New Deal. You can read a longer fact check here.

Hirono and the Green New Deal

Trump told his familiar story about how Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono praised the Green New Deal, then was told “you basically can’t fly in an airplane.” He joked that they then said they would build a bridge from the mainland to Hawaii.

Facts First: That is not what happened. When told by a reporter that the Green New Deal would try to eliminate air travel and move to high-speed rail across the country, Hirono said that would be “pretty hard for Hawaii,” then laughed. She did not explain her laughter at that moment, but as she explained later, the Green New Deal resolution Hirono had endorsed does not actually call for the elimination of air travel.

Wind power

Trump told his usual semi-comedic story about how, using wind power, you won’t be able to watch Trump speeches on television if the wind isn’t blowing at the time.

Facts First: Using wind power as part of a mix of power sources does not cause power outages, as the federal Department of Energy explains on its website. “Studies have shown that the grid can accommodate large penetrations of variable renewable power without sacrificing reliability, and without the need for ‘backup’ generation,” the Department of Energy says.

The Department of Energy explains that although power grid operators need to account for the variability that comes with using wind and solar power, they know how to manage, since “all forms of power generation,” including non-renewable sources, “may sometimes not operate when called upon.”

Biden and private health insurance

Trump claimed again that Biden “wants to wipe out 180 million private health care plans that people love.”

Facts First: Biden does not. While Biden does endorse a “public option” to allow people to opt in to a Medicare-like government insurance plan, Biden has not agreed to anything like the “Medicare for All” single-payer proposal Sanders is known for, which would eliminate most private insurance plans. In fact, Biden and Sanders clashed on the issue during the Democratic primary.
It’s possible that, over time, a popular public option would affect private insurers’ willingness to offer some private plans. But the Trump campaign is suggesting Biden is actively proposing to wipe out private insurance, and that’s not the case at all.

Pelosi and impeachment

Trump said again that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was blindsided by an inaccurate account, offered by Rep. Adam Schiff, of Trump’s July 2019 phone call with Ukraine’s president. Trump claimed that Pelosi had decided to pursue impeachment of Trump when she thought Schiff’s version was actually what was said on Trump’s call, but then, when Trump revealed the truth, Pelosi said, “What the hell did you get me into?”
Facts First: Trump’s timeline was the reverse of reality: Schiff delivered his at-least-confusing rendition of Trump’s call after, not before, the White House released a rough transcript of the call; the reason for the controversy about Schiff’s rendition at a congressional committee hearing was that people could see that it was an embellished paraphrase.

The National Guard and Minnesota

Trump took credit for quelling unrest in Minneapolis after the killing of George Floyd. He then said, “Now, they shouldn’t have allowed it go to on for 11 days. They should’ve called us immediately.”

Facts First: It was the Democratic governor of Minnesota, National Guard veteran Tim Walz, who activated the Guard to deal with violent protests; he did so before Trump publicly threatened to send in the Guard himself. And Walz didn’t let the violence go on for 11 days: he activated the state Guard two days after the first protest violence, then activated the entire state Guard two days after that.

You can read a full timeline here.