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AP FACT CHECK: Prosecutors’ filings do not exonerate Trump

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Associated Press Photo

President Donald Trump stands within the seating alongside the Navy sidelines earlier than the second half of a NCAA school soccer recreation between Military and Navy, Saturday, Dec. eight, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photograph/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is in denial in terms of the Russia investigation and different scandals besieging him.

The president insists he’s been absolutely vindicated by courtroom filings launched Friday that lay out the extent of cooperation from two of his former prime advisers, whom prosecutors have accused of mendacity to federal investigators or Congress. The truth is, Trump’s Justice Division places him in even larger authorized jeopardy by immediately implicating him in an unlawful scheme involving hush cash funds to a porn actress and a former Playboy mannequin.

In feedback over the weekend, Trump cites the filings within the instances involving his former private lawyer, Michael Cohen, and onetime marketing campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as proof that no collusion had been discovered within the particular counsel’s investigation. That’s additionally not true. That probe into contacts between the Trump marketing campaign and Russia in the course of the 2016 election continues to be ongoing, so the filings do not but render a judgment on collusion.

The statements capped every week during which Trump additionally claimed with out proof that Paris protesters have been chanting help for him, made questionable assertions about China commerce and tariffs and derided U.S. weapons spending as loopy, regardless of earlier boasts about growing the army finances.

In the meantime, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez skimmed over the information when she instructed the Pentagon has a hidden pot of $21 trillion that would assist pay for “Medicare for All.”

A take a look at the claims and the truth:

COHEN

TRUMP: “Totally clears the President. Thank you!” — tweet Friday.

THE FACTS: The courtroom filings Friday are the primary time that federal prosecutors immediately join Trump to a criminal offense.

The violations stemmed from funds Cohen made to purchase the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy mannequin Karen McDougal through the 2016 presidential marketing campaign. Each ladies alleged that they had extramarital affairs with Trump, which the White Home denies.

Prosecutors in New York, the place Cohen pleaded responsible in August to marketing campaign finance crimes in reference to these funds, stated the lawyer “acted in coordination and at the direction” of Trump. Although Cohen had beforehand implicated Trump within the funds, the Justice Division is now linking Trump to the scheme and backing up Cohen’s allegations.

It’s unclear whether or not Trump will truly be charged with criminality, as a result of Justice Division authorized memos from 1973 and 2000 have instructed that a sitting president is immune from indictment and that legal fees would undermine the commander in chief’s means to do the job. However it’s attainable Congress might use prosecutors’ findings to start out impeachment proceedings. There additionally would presumably be no bar towards charging a president after he leaves the White Home.

Federal regulation requires that any funds made “for the purposes of influencing” an election have to be reported in marketing campaign finance disclosures. Friday’s filings clarify the funds have been made to profit Trump politically.

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RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

TRUMP: “On the Mueller situation, we’re very happy with what we are reading because there was no collusion whatsoever. There never has been.” — remarks to reporters Saturday.

TRUMP: “NO COLLUSION!” — tweet Saturday.

THE FACTS: Trump’s incorrect to recommend the filings clear him of collusion. A part of an ongoing investigation, they do not but draw a conclusion and as an alternative lay out proof of beforehand undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries.

In one of many filings, particular counsel Robert Mueller particulars how Cohen spoke to a Russian in 2015 who “claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level.’” The individual repeatedly dangled a gathering between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying such a gathering might have a “phenomenal” impression “in a business dimension as well.”

That was a reference to a proposed Moscow actual property deal that prosecutors say might have netted Trump’s enterprise lots of of hundreds of thousands of dollars and would probably require help of the Russian authorities. Cohen admitted this month to mendacity to Congress by saying discussions a few Trump Tower in Moscow led to January 2016 when in reality they stretched into that June, properly into the presidential marketing campaign.

Cohen stated he by no means adopted up on the proposed assembly, as a result of he was working with a “different individual” with connections to the Russian authorities.

Cohen additionally advised prosecutors he and Trump mentioned a possible assembly with Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. Common Meeting in September 2015, shortly after Trump introduced his candidacy for president.

In one other submitting Friday, prosecutors stated Manafort lied about his contacts with Russia and Trump administration officers, together with in 2018. Mueller’s workforce cited Manafort’s interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, an affiliate who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence. Mueller’s workforce stated they might have the ability to supply further info at a listening to, corresponding to the character of Manafort’s contacts with the Trump administration in 2018, to show Manafort was mendacity.

Trump’s attorneys final month turned over the president’s written solutions to Mueller’s questions on his information of any ties between his marketing campaign and Russia. Mueller hasn’t stated when he’ll full any report of his findings.

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TRUMP: “The last thing I want is help from Russia on a campaign.” — remarks Saturday.

THE FACTS: Truly, Trump did request Russia’s assist through the 2016 marketing campaign.

In a July 27, 2016, speech, then-candidate Trump referred to as on Russian hackers to seek out emails from Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent within the presidential marketing campaign.

“Russia, if you’re listening,” Trump stated, “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Hours later, the Most important Intelligence Directorate in Moscow appeared to heed the decision — concentrating on Clinton’s private workplace and hitting greater than 70 different Clinton marketing campaign accounts. That’s based on a grand jury indictment in July charging 12 Russian army intelligence officers with hacking into the Clinton marketing campaign and the Democratic Get together as a part of a sweeping conspiracy by the Kremlin to meddle within the 2016 U.S. election.

That indictment by Mueller says July 27 was the primary time Clinton’s private workplace was focused.

The try and penetrate Clinton’s marketing campaign started March 10, 2016, and hit a big success on March 19 when the Russian intelligence officers busted open the e-mail account of John Podesta, Clinton’s marketing campaign chairman, an AP investigation final yr discovered.

They “phished” intensively and repetitively. All through at the very least March and April there have been repeated efforts to interrupt into about 120 Democratic Nationwide Committee, Clinton and left-leaning activists’ accounts throughout the nation.

Then they introduced Clinton’s private workplace into their scope, the indictment says — the very night Trump appeared to beckon Russians to do simply that.

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PARIS

TRUMP: “The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting ‘We Want Trump! Love France.” — tweet Saturday.

THE FACTS: Neither Related Press journalists overlaying protests within the metropolis nor any French tv networks have proven proof that supporters have been chanting any slogans in help of Trump. The protests that started as a revolt towards a fuel tax improve have turned more and more violent and France imposed distinctive safety measures Saturday to stop a repeat of rioting every week in the past.

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JERUSALEM

TRUMP: “We quickly moved the American embassy to Jerusalem and we got it built.”— remarks Thursday at Hanukkah occasion.

THE FACTS: Nothing’s been constructed but. The Trump administration designated an present U.S. consular facility in Jerusalem for the U.S. Embassy, retrofitting some workplaces and holding an enormous dedication ceremony in Might. The U.S. has but to determine a everlasting website for the brand new embassy, a course of that’s anticipated to take years. The State Division has estimated that developing a brand new embassy would value greater than $500 million.

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TARIFFS

TRUMP: “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.” — tweet on Dec. 2.

THE FACTS: Every week later, it’s nonetheless not clear if this can occur. When requested concerning the matter, Kudlow would solely say that he hoped China would take away its tariffs on U.S. autos. “We don’t yet have a specific agreement on that, but I will just tell you, as an involved participant, we expect those tariffs to go to zero,” he advised reporters final Monday. Pressed once more Tuesday, Kudlow informed “Fox and Friends” that he anticipated China to maneuver shortly on eradicating the tariffs “if they’re serious about this.”

“I think it’s coming, OK?” he stated. “It hasn’t been signed and sealed and delivered yet.”

The White Home’s complicated and conflicting phrases have left Wall Road skeptical.

“It doesn’t seem like anything was actually agreed to at the dinner and White House officials are contorting themselves into pretzels to reconcile Trump’s tweets (which seem if not completely fabricated then grossly exaggerated) with reality,” JPMorgan advised buyers in a buying and selling word.

On Thursday, a Chinese language official stated that China will “immediately implement the consensus reached by the two sides on farm products, cars and energy,” however did not tackle the auto tariffs particularly or present any further particulars.

Trump has forged doubt on whether or not a agency settlement had been reached, tweeting that his administration will decide “whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible.”

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TRUMP: “I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: Trump appears to be claiming that tariffs are some sort of a membership payment for overseas corporations to commerce within the U.S. financial system.

They’re not. Tariffs are a tax, per Article I, Part eight of the Structure.

The prices of this tax are borne by U.S. shoppers and companies, typically within the type of larger costs. Overseas corporations might find yourself promoting fewer items and providers if the USA imposes excessive tariffs. In order that they pay a worth, too.

In some instances, the tariffs exist to guard industries which are very important for nationwide safety. Or, the tariffs exist to retaliate towards the commerce practices of different nations. Or, they could shield politically related corporations.

Prior to now, White Home aides have insisted that Trump’s tariffs are a negotiating ploy. But the president provided no such qualifications on Tuesday.

Tariffs are not seen as some straightforward approach of producing large wealth for an economically developed nation. After Trump introduced metal and aluminum tariffs earlier this yr, the College of Chicago requested main educational economists in March whether or not People can be higher off due to import taxes. Not a single economist surveyed stated the nation can be wealthier.

Nor do the finances numbers recommend they will come anyplace near overlaying the prices of the federal authorities.

Trump is right that tariffs did generate $41.three billion in tax revenues final finances yr, based on the Treasury Division. However to place that in perspective, the federal price range exceeds $four.1 trillion.

The taxes collected on imports have been equal to about 1 % of all federal spending.

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MEDICARE

OCASIO-CORTEZ: “$21 TRILLION of Pentagon financial transactions ‘could not be traced, documented, or explained.’ $21T in Pentagon accounting errors. Medicare for All costs (tilde)$32T. That means 66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon. And that’s before our premiums.” — tweet Dec. 2.

THE FACTS: Ocasio-Cortez is usually right to recommend that a method of paying for the large value of “Medicare for All” can be to chop spending elsewhere. However she is flawed to recommend that there’s a pot of misspent protection dollars that would cowl the well being care bills. The New York Democrat additionally misrepresents the findings of a tutorial research that discovered the $21 trillion in Pentagon errors to be accounting “adjustments,” not a tally of precise cash wasted.

The research by Mark Skidmore, an economist at Michigan State College and Catherine Austin Fitts, a former assistant secretary of the Division of Housing and City Improvement, did discover $21 trillion in Pentagon transactions from 1998 to 2015 that would not be verified. Their research is a cited in a Nation article retweeted partially by Ocasio-Cortez, regardless that that article makes clear that not “all of this $21 trillion was secret or misused funding … the plugs are found on both the positive and the negative sides of the ledger, thus potentially netting each other out.”

Complete protection spending from 1998 to 2015 was $9 trillion. Meaning defunding the army solely would solely cowl a small portion of the estimated $32 trillion value over 10 years for the “Medicare for All” laws by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Ocasio-Cortez wrongly means that fixing Pentagon accounting errors would internet 66 % of prices.

“What she was referencing was the total number of transactions that happened with DoD — there’s a lot of double and triple counting as money gets moved around in the department,” stated Todd Harrison, director of protection finances evaluation on the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research. “All of that basically means is that those transactions don’t have a full trail,” akin to an worker who submits an expense report with out offering all of the receipts.

“Just because you don’t have the proper audit trail for transactions doesn’t mean that those transactions are fraudulent,” Harrison stated.

David Norquist, the Pentagon’s comptroller, has attributed the accounting errors to the division’s older bookkeeping “systems that do not automatically pass data from one to the other.” He stated in testimony to the Home Armed Providers Committee in January that the errors do not quantity to a pot of misplaced cash. “I wouldn’t want the taxpayer to confuse that with the loss of something like a trillion dollars, it’s not. That wouldn’t be accurate,” Norquist stated.

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MILITARY SPENDING

TRUMP: “I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!” — tweet Dec. three.

THE FACTS: His criticism of U.S. weapons spending as “crazy” vastly overstates the quantity spent on the arms race. It is also a sudden change of tone from his earlier boasts about elevated army spending.

Trump’s assertion appeared to confuse the whole Protection Division price range with America’s funding within the missile protection methods and strategic nuclear weapons often related to the arms race. The Pentagon’s finances for 2019 totals about $716 billion, however that features all the things from well being care and pay for service members to the prices of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The arms race is only a fraction of that quantity, totaling about $10 billion this yr for a variety of missile protection and nuclear weapons packages.

Till lately, Trump has bragged about his improve in army spending, railing about what he claims is earlier administrations’ neglect of America’s armed forces. He stated his administration is “rebuilding our military.” He has sometimes complained about particular packages akin to Air Drive One and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, however his criticism was leveled on the protection contractors and targeted on demanding financial savings.

He has been much more supportive of the broader protection will increase, and particularly has endorsed hikes for missile protection consistent with a U.S. protection technique that targets China and Russia as key adversaries.

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IMMIGRATION

TRUMP: “Could somebody please explain to the Democrats (we need their votes) that our Country losses (sic) 250 Billion Dollars a year on illegal immigration, not including the terrible drug flow. Top Border Security, including a Wall, is $25 Billion. Pays for itself in two months. Get it done!” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: He’s inflating the price of unlawful immigration. Trump’s numbers left even these sympathetic to the president’s place scratching their heads.

“I’m not sure where the president got his numbers,” stated Dave Ray, a spokesman for the nonprofit group FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for decrease immigration numbers.

Neither the White Home nor the Division of Homeland Safety responded to questions on the place the $250 billion estimate had come from.

The Heritage Basis, as an example, estimated in 2013 that households headed by immigrants dwelling within the U.S. illegally impose a internet fiscal burden of round $54.5 billion per yr.

Even Trump himself has contradicted the determine. Throughout his 2016 marketing campaign, Trump claimed that unlawful immigration value the nation greater than $113 billion a yr — lower than half the quantity he tweeted Tuesday.

That estimate appeared based mostly on a paper by FAIR, which launched an up to date report in 2017 that claimed taxpayers “shell out approximately $134.9 billion to cover the costs incurred by the presence of more than 12.5 million illegal aliens, and about 4.2 million citizen children of illegal aliens” on the federal, state and native ranges, with “a tax burden of approximately $8,075 per illegal alien family member and a total of $115,894,597,664.”

The $116 million determine included providers comparable to well being care and schooling, in addition to spending on businesses together with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, minus the $19 billon the group concluded those that live within the nation illegally pay in taxes. Nevertheless it additionally included prices related to the youngsters of these immigrants in its tally, even when they’re U.S. residents. The estimate was criticized for making broad generalizations and different main methodological flaws.

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Related Press writers Chad Day, Christopher Rugaber, Josh Boak, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Jill Colvin and Lolita Baldor in Washington and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.

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EDITOR’S NOTE _ A take a look at the veracity of claims by political figures

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