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AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s ‘record’ poverty drop, Flynn’s lies

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President Donald Trump makes a press release on the potential authorities shutdown earlier than signing legal simply reform laws within the Oval Workplace of the White Home, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photograph/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is spreading misinformation about U.S. financial progress, the Russia investigation and the Islamic State group in Syria.

He and his advisers are declaring a “record” drop in U.S. poverty final yr the place none exists, and “very strong” capital spending subsequent yr resulting from Trump administration tax cuts. Actually, capital spending is projected to sluggish, in all probability dampening financial progress.

On the Russia investigation, Trump’s White Home asserts that former nationwide safety adviser Michael Flynn was unfairly focused by FBI investigators even after Flynn himself stated that wasn’t the case and declined a decide’s supply to withdraw his responsible plea of mendacity to the FBI. And on Syria, Trump declared a untimely victory over IS to justify withdrawing U.S. troops.

The assertions got here throughout a frenetic week by which Trump stored Washington on edge, culminating with a partial authorities shutdown over a dispute about cash for his proposed border wall, after he did not ship on his marketing campaign promise to make Mexico pay. His choice to take U.S. troops out of Syria was shortly adopted by the resignation of his protection secretary, Jim Mattis.

A take a look at some claims and the truth:


PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, on Flynn: “We’re arguing that he was certainly ambushed and that the FBI, that we know, had clear political bias.” — interview Tuesday with Fox Information.

SANDERS: “The FBI broke standard protocol in the way that they came in and ambushed Gen. Flynn and in the way that they questioned him.” — information briefing Tuesday.

THE FACTS: She’s suggesting impropriety within the FBI’s questioning of Flynn that Flynn himself rejected in courtroom.

Sanders was echoing an argument by Flynn’s legal professionals in courtroom filings that Flynn might have been tricked into mendacity by FBI brokers. His legal professionals had pulled from FBI paperwork in stating that in contrast to different defendants within the Russia investigation, Flynn wasn’t warned prematurely that it was a criminal offense to misinform the FBI. Trump himself has argued that Flynn was unfairly focused by particular counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and instructed that Flynn didn’t truly lie, regardless of having fired him almost two years in the past for simply that purpose.

However at his sentencing listening to Tuesday, Flynn advised Decide Emmet Sullivan that he knew it was a criminal offense when he lied to the FBI in January 2017. Flynn declined to simply accept the decide’s supply to withdraw his responsible plea. Neither he nor his legal professionals disputed that he had lied to brokers.

Sullivan requested Flynn and his legal professionals a number of occasions whether or not they believed Flynn was entrapped or if Flynn needed to problem the circumstances of his dialog with the FBI that led to costs.

“No, your honor,” Flynn stated.



TRUMP: “Last year alone, we lifted 1 million Americans out of poverty, which is a record.” — remarks Dec. 12.

THE FACTS: It’s not a document and barely a decline.

The Census Bureau did report that the variety of People dwelling in poverty final yr was 39.7 million, a decline of 918,000 from 2016. However the bureau stated the 39.7 million is just not a meaningfully totally different quantity statistically from 2016, when the determine stood at 40.6 million. In different phrases, the drop might be accounted for by variations in sampling the inhabitants somewhat than by an precise decline within the variety of poor individuals.

Final yr’s drop of 918,000 can also be dwarfed by greater decreases within the variety of poor individuals of two.5 million in 2016 and three.5 million in 2015.

The most important recorded decline got here in 1966, when almost four.7 million People have been discovered to have been lifted above the poverty line. The company considers declines of that measurement to characterize a “a true difference that exists in the population as a whole,” slightly than only a sampling variation.



KEVIN HASSETT, chairman of the White Home Council of Financial Advisers: “Survey data suggests that the capital spending plans over the next year are very strong, or over the next six months.” — telephone name with reporters on Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of passage of the administration’s tax cuts.

THE FACTS: Truly, most economists observe that surveys and more-reliable financial knowledge level to a slowdown in capital spending progress subsequent yr. This can be a essential level as a result of Hassett is arguing that administration’s tax cuts will proceed to spur funding in giant equipment, computer systems and different long-lasting gear. Such funding not solely lifts short-term financial progress but in addition could make the financial system extra environment friendly, which accelerates progress over time. Capital funding did improve markedly within the first half of this yr, in all probability partially as a result of Trump’s tax cuts sharply decreased company taxes.

However the newest knowledge suggests funding will sluggish, not speed up, subsequent yr. U.S. manufacturing unit orders for giant capital items have fallen in three of the previous 4 months. Surveys by regional Federal Reserve banks present that corporations are planning to spend much less on capital gear subsequent yr. That’s one purpose many economists forecast financial progress will sluggish in 2019 from a tempo of about three % this yr.



TRUMP: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: The militants stay a lethal pressure, and U.S. companions warn that a untimely American withdrawal will permit IS to storm again. Trump appeared to contradict his personal assertion when he tweeted the subsequent day that the U.S. withdrawal means Russia, Syria and Iran “will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us.”

IS militants nonetheless maintain a string of villages and cities alongside the Euphrates River in japanese Syria, the place they’ve resisted weeks of assaults by the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces to drive them out.

The pocket is residence to about 15,000 individuals, amongst them 2,000 IS fighters, in response to U.S. army estimates.

However that determine might be as excessive as eight,000 militants, if fighters hiding out within the deserts south of the Euphrates River are additionally counted, based on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which screens the battle via networks of native informants.

Observatory head Rami Abdurrahman stated they embrace seasoned militants who’ve fought international wars of jihad because the 1990s.

The SDF, a Kurdish-led pressure that’s America’s solely army associate in Syria, stated Thursday: “The war against Islamic State has not ended and the group has not been defeated.” The group is on the entrance strains of the battle towards IS alongside the Euphrates River.

It stated a U.S. withdrawal would go away Syrians “between the claws of enemy forces.”

At their peak in 2014, IS militants managed roughly one-third of territory in Syria and Iraq, together with main cities in each nations. The group flourished within the political vacuum of Syria’s civil conflict, through which President Bashar Assad has violently put down a 2011 rebellion towards his household’s 40-year rule.

The pocket alongside the Euphrates represents only one % of the territory it as soon as held. However current assaults in Iraq present the group continues to be able to mounting lethal assaults even with out holding city areas.

Trump’s personal advisers have described the battle towards IS as a long-term dedication that depends upon stabilizing Syria after almost eight years of civil warfare.

“Nobody is declaring mission accomplished,” stated Brett McGurk, the particular presidential envoy to the coalition to defeat IS in Syria and Iraq, on Dec. 11.


TRUMP: “Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us.” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: Truly, Moscow welcomed the event, which provides each Russia and Iran extra of an opportunity to unfold affect in Syria. A lawmaker in Damascus put it bluntly, saying a U.S. withdrawal can be “recognition that Syria has won” the conflict.

The U.S. army presence has been contentious for Assad and Russian and Iranian allies. In an in any other case unfavorable appraisal of relations with the U.S., Russian President Vladimir Putin stated Trump “has done the right thing” in deciding to tug troops out of Syria. He has lengthy argued that the U.S. presence in Syria is illegitimate as a result of it wasn’t vetted by the U.N. Safety Council or permitted by Assad’s authorities.



TRUMP: “Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: He’s making a flimsy assertion meant to cowl up the truth that Mexico refused to pay for a U.S. border wall, as Trump promised it might do through the 2016 marketing campaign.

Trump is arguing that new phrases of commerce with Mexico will improve financial progress within the U.S. and produce extra tax income. As a part of that, he hopes for a decrease commerce deficit with Mexico. However these outcomes aren’t assured.

The deal negotiated with Mexico and Canada is an replace of the North American Free Commerce Settlement he railed towards, not a transformative pact. The three nations will proceed buying and selling in an setting of primarily low or no tariffs, with enhancements right here and there for all three companions. There isn’t a credible approach for Trump to forecast further progress overlaying prices which are being charged to U.S. taxpayers if the wall is constructed. Commerce balances depend upon too many elements — shopper tastes, trade charges, general financial efficiency, and the alternatives of hundreds of corporations amongst them — and a few are nicely outdoors any authorities’s management.

Trump particularly promised within the marketing campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. That isn’t the identical as making an attempt to scale back the U.S. commerce deficit, which is concerning the change of products and providers amongst personal entities slightly than funds between governments.

He needs $25 billion from Congress for wall development over 5 years. If Trump will get the cash, it won’t be as a result of lawmakers anticipate a refund to the treasury in future years from additional progress produced by a commerce deal.


TRUMP: “Illegal immigration costs the United States more than 200 Billion Dollars a year. How was this allowed to happen?” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: He’s exaggerating the prices of unlawful immigration.

“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 has stated the place Trump’s estimate of $200 billion to $250 billion comes from.

The Heritage Basis, for 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.

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 reminiscent of 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. However 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.


Related Press writers Eric Tucker and Cal Woodward in Washington and Philip Issa in Baghdad contributed to this report.


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