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50 things Donald Trump has said that simply aren’t true

Who needs facts when you're winning in the polls?


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Jan 15, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 8:54 am CDT

Don’t let anyone fool you: Donald Trump is winning.

When the boisterous New York real estate mogul first announced his presidential run in June 2015, many experts laughed and dismissed him. Not anymore. Nationally, Trump leads his rivals by more than 15 points on average, according to Real Clear Politics. And while he is neck-and-neck with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Iowa, the first state in the nation to cast primary votes, Trump holds a commanding 17-point lead in the next state to vote, New Hampshire.

Beyond mere polls, Thursday night’s Republican debate proved that the American people have their eyes squarely on Trump, even as the media and political pundits continue to brush him off as a fad.

What makes Trump extraordinary—besides his ability to buck professional political observers’ expectations—is his seeming indifference to facts. Every politician lies—Republican voters might be thinking of Hillary Clinton right now. But Trump’s campaign is incredible because, even when he gets called out for saying things that aren’t true, there seem to be no negative repercussions for him in polls.

“He stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims,” reporters at wrote, “but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong.”

Instead, the excitement intensifies, crowds grow, and a Trump Republican primary victory seems increasingly likely.

To give you a sense of just how frequent the Republican presidential frontrunner fudges the facts, here are 50 falsehoods told by Trump—hardly an exhaustive list for a man who has been in the public eye for decades.

  1. Knocking an incompetent U.S. government, Trump said, “We’re going to have a trade deficit of $505 billion with China this year.” He’s off by about $200 billion.

  2. Trump criticized Obama’s use of executive orders, saying American government is “not supposed to work that way.” First, Obama has issued fewer executive orders than either Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan (just to name a few). Second, Trump has already outlined his own proposed executive orders, including an automatic death sentence for anyone who kills a cop—something that a president likely can’t legally do, by the way.

  3. Criticizing America’s rusting infrastructure, Trump said 61 percent of our bridges are in danger of falling. In fact, 10 percent (61,365) are “structurally deficient,” according to the Federal Highway Administration’s latest available figures, so he’s off by about 300,000 bridges—the majority of them.

  4. Trump regularly brags that he is “self-funding” his campaign. He’s taken over $5 million from donors.

  5. Trump has claimed, “people are pouring across the southern border.” Actually, more Mexican immigrants are leaving the U.S. than entering it, and illegal immigration overall has flatlined since about 2009.

  6. Last week, Trump told the New York Times he wanted to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods. At last night’s debate, he first said the Times got it wrong and that he never said that. Two minutes later, however, he was arguing for tariffs.

  7. Blaming the Paris terror attacks on a lack of guns in civilian hands, Trump said Paris has “the strictest no-gun policy of any city anywhere in the world.” Actually, France has the twelfth most guns per capita in the world. France’s gun rules are strict by American standards, but, compared to the rest of the world, the French are packing heat.

  8. Trump claims “the police are the most mistreated people in this country.” In fact, the statistics show the “war on police” narrative is false, and groups like gay and transgender youth are worse off by many metrics.

  9. In Thursday night’s debate, Trump said he looked at Syria’s refugees and “[it] looked like very few women. Very few children. Strong, powerful men. Young.” A majority of the 4 million registered refugees are women, not “very few.”

  10. Lobbing insults at Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Trump said he is “the worst mayor in the United States. I hate watching what is happening with dirty streets, the homeless, and crime!” Crime is down in New York City, which remains one of the safest major cities in the world and the safest in America. Homelessness, however, is rising.

  11. Trump said “thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrated 9/11. They didn’t.

  12. He claims Mexico is forcing rapists and criminals to enter the U.S. as illegal immigrants, even though immigrants commit crime at lower rates than America’s native population.

  13. Trump said the Obamacare website doesn’t work. That was true in the days after its launch, but it’s not true todaysee for yourself. Millions of Americans have used the site to sign up for insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.

  14. In a November debate, Trump said the U.S. is “losing jobs like never before.” A few days before he said that, the U.S. gained 271,000 jobs in the best report of the year. Overall, the U.S. added 2.65 million jobs in 2015.

  15. Trump claimed that the GDP shrank under Obama at the beginning of 2015 and that “it’s never under zero.” In fact, GDP does shrink during recessions—but it actually grew in the beginning of 2015.

  16. Trump claimed he’s the only Republican running for president who fought against going to war in Iraq. He did that after the war started and then supported George W. Bush’s reelection anyway, guaranteeing the continuation of the war.

  17. Trump claimed “autism is an epidemic.” That’s a common refrain from the anti-vaccine crowd, but multiple scientific research papers say it’s wrong.

  18. Trump claimed he “predicted Osama Bin Laden” and even that he “predicted terrorism.” False.

  19. Trump said he “heard” President Obama is “thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away.” Wrong.

  20. He said ISIS built a hotel in Syria. They didn’t; they took over a hotel building that already existed.

  21. Trump said the “real” unemployment rate is 20 percent. It’s not, no matter how you count it.

  22. Then he said it’s actually 42 percent. Still wrong.

  23. Trump claims the 9/11 hijackers sent their wives home from the U.S. on the eve of the attack. That would be hard to do because none of them had wives here (or, for that matter, anywhere).

  24. Arguing about how weak our military had become, Trump said “even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work” because it’s decades old. That’s not true.

  25. He said Obama wants to take in 250,000 Syrian refugees and wondered if the president is insane. The U.S. will accept 100,000 refugees from the entire world by 2017. Syrian refugees specifically will make up at least 10,000 in the next year.

  26. Trump said that Syrian Christians couldn’t enter the U.S. as refugees. Most arrivals from Syria have been Muslim, but Christians are coming as well, with no laws restricting their movement more than any other refugee.

  27. Trump claimed Obama is sending refugees to Republican-led states but not to Democratic-led ones. The numbers are almost equal.

  28. Trump said his book Trump: The Art of the Deal is the best selling business book of all time. It’s not.

  29. He said support for abortion is going down. Not true.

  30. Attacking Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as “not a war hero,” he said McCain has “done nothing” for veterans. Veterans disagree.

  31. Trump said 300,000 veterans died waiting for care. That’s not shown in the evidence.

  32. Trump has repeatedly claims that multiple people saw pipe bombs sitting around the house of the San Bernardino shooters but said nothing to police. There’s zero evidence that’s true.

  33. After a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Trump said the school was a “gun free zone.” Actually, anyone with a valid concealed carry license could have a gun on campus.

  34. In one of many debate fights with 2016 rival and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Trump denied that he asked  to build a casino in Florida. The evidence says he tried and failed.

  35. “We don’t get along with the heads of Mexico,” Trump claimed in the September GOP presidential debate. Mexico is our third biggest trade partner. Mexico’s president has praised Obama on multiple fronts, including immigration, much to the consternation of conservatives opposed to Obama’s initiatives on that issue.

  36. Trump said Republicans wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration if it wasn’t for him. Immigration has been a major presidential campaign issue for years before Trump became a candidate.

  37. Trump said illegal immigration is costing us over $200 million per year. That’s double what even anti-immigration research claims and ignores any benefits, like the taxes people in the U.S. illegally pay.

  38. Trump says the 14th Amendment says that babies born to illegal immigrants inside the U.S. are not citizens. It says the opposite: All persons born in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

  39. Trump has repeatedly cited a poll that says 25 percent of Muslim Americans support violence against Americans, saying it’s from a “very highly respected group of people.” The poll is widely criticized as inaccurate, and the pollster behind it claims Obama is a Muslim extremist.

  40. Trump said he got to know Russian President Vladimir Putin “very well” because they were both on CBS’s 60 Minutes on the same Sunday night. But Putin taped from Russia, while Trump taped from New York.

  41. He claimed that, under Obama, income and employment for African-Americans is “worse than just about ever.” Both stats are worse for black Americans than their white counterparts, but they have been improving for years under Obama. Historically, black income and employment has been worse for the majority of the last 50 years.

  42. Trump says black people kill 81 percent of white homicide victims. Way off.

  43. Criticized by Fox News host Megyn Kelly for calling women names like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” Trump claimed some of Kelly’s examples never happened. Trump said all those things about women.

  44. As part of one of many attacks against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, Trump said that, in the event of an Iran-Israel war, the U.S. must side with Iran. False.

  45. Trump claimed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a leading Democratic presidential candidate, will tax “you people”—referring to a national audience of millions watching a debate—at a rate of 90 percent. Wrong on several levels. First, Sanders was talking about president Dwight Eisenhower’s top marginal rate—for the very richest people in America—hitting 90 percent. Sander’s own plan, though not yet specified, is around 50 percent for the country’s wealthiest earners.

  46. Trump said he’ll decrease taxes without decreasing the national deficit. Economists of varying stripes disagree.

  47. Decrying the state of the economy, Trump said in June that there are “no jobs to be had.” That month, a report showed 5.4 million job openings in the U.S., a 15-year high.

  48. Trump’s latest entry into the political sphere really began a few years ago, when he claimed President Obama was born in Kenya and that no American schoolmate of Obama’s remembers him, which is false

  49. … As is the Trump claim that Obama’s grandmother talked about the future president’s so-called Kenyan birth.

  50. Trump claimed that while Bush spent $50 million on his campaign, the real estate mogul spent “almost nothing.” He’s spent over $5.5 million and is slated to spend as much as $2 million per week between now and the first primary votes in February.

Screengrab via Donald Trump/YouTube | Remix by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Jan 15, 2016, 5:02 pm CST