As we have for the past three nights, CNN is watching and fact-checking tonight’s remarks. Here’s what we found.
Trump claimed the US economy has gained a record nine million jobs over the past three months.
Facts First: This is highly misleading. The economy did add about 9.3 million jobs combined in May, June and July — but that record increase immediately followed a much bigger record loss of about 22.2 million jobs in March and April.
In other words, the economy is still down nearly 13 million jobs because of the coronavirus crisis. (Also, many of the jobs added were simply people returning to work after temporary layoffs.)
— Daniel Dale
Prescription drug prices
Trump doubled down on his longtime pledge to lower prescription drug prices, mentioning it twice in his speech.
“Last month, I took on Big Pharma — you think that’s easy? It’s not — and signed orders that will massively lower the cost of your prescription drugs,” said Trump, who also promised to “further reduce the cost of prescription drugs.”
Facts First: The President signed four executive orders in July aimed at reducing drug prices, but it’s far from clear whether they will ever take effect or greatly lower prices if they do. Also, drug prices have continued to rise during the Trump administration, though the growth rate has slowed by some measures.
One, known as the favored nations measure — which has not yet been released by the White House — generally calls for setting Medicare reimbursement levels for certain drugs on their cost in other countries. Trump said at the signing that he would hold onto the order until August 24 to give drug makers time to present their ideas for reducing costs. A planned meeting at the White House in late July never took place, and it remains to be seen what Trump will do with the measure.
The final order directs Federally Qualified Health Centers, which provide primary care services to underserved communities, to pass along discounts on insulin and EpiPens to their patients.
It’s likely the drug industry would take the administration to court if the President moves forward with the orders.
As for drug prices: GoodRx, which follows several thousand brand name and generic medications, found that manufacturers hiked prices on 857 drugs by an average of 6.8% in the first six months of this year. That compares to 933 medications rising an average of 7% over the same time last year, according to the website, which provides cost comparisons and consumer discounts. The number of drugs and rate of price growth slowed between 2015 and 2019.
— Tami Luhby
Progress for Black Americans
Trump claimed that he has done more for the African American community than any other president since Abraham Lincoln.
It’s absurd to say Lincoln is a “possible” exception; emancipating the slaves was obviously more important for Black Americans than anything Trump has done. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, monumental bills whose impact dwarfed the impact of any legislation Trump has signed.
— Daniel Dale and Holmes Lybrand
Trump noted Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War in an attack on Biden’s record.
Facts First: This omits important context. While Trump is correct that Biden voted for the war, Trump didn’t mention that he himself expressed tentative support for the 2003 invasion in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern.
— Andrew Kaczynski
Veterans health care
Trump falsely claimed he passed the Veterans Choice program.
Facts First: The Veterans Choice bill, a bipartisan initiative led by Sens. Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014.
In 2018, Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which expanded and changed the Choice program.
— Daniel Dale
Trump said, “We have already built 300 miles of border wall.”
Facts First: This needs context. As of August 7, some 275 miles of barriers had been constructed on the US border with Mexico — but just 5 of those miles were erected in places where no barriers had existed before, according to official statistics provided to CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez by US Customs and Border Protection.
Of the remainder, 245 miles were erected in place of old barriers, while 25 miles of new “secondary wall” were erected to fortify primary barriers.
The Trump-era replacement barriers are often much larger than the older ones they are replacing. But still, it’s worth noting that Trump has not erected 300 miles of wall where no barriers existed before.
— Daniel Dale
During his speech, Trump claimed that he has “very good information” that China wants Biden to win because Biden cheers for China.
The statement went on to note that China has been critical of Trump’s “Covid-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate” and “actions on Hong Kong, TikTok, the legal status of the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to dominate the 5G market.”
Evanina’s report makes no mention of China preferring Biden because he would weaken the US economy.
-Daniel Dale and Holmes Lybrand
Trump claimed NATO members had agreed to pay $130 billion more a year.
Facts First: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg explained during a meeting with Trump on December 3, 2019, that by the end of 2020 non-US NATO members would have added a total of $130 billion to their defense budgets since 2016, not $130 billion per year.
This figure does not take into account the possible impact of the current pandemic, NATO spokeswoman Peggy Beauplet noted in an email to CNN on Thursday morning.
Child care costs
First daughter Ivanka Trump claimed that the Trump administration had lived up to promises to make child care more affordable and accessible by boosting child tax credits as part of the 2018 tax overhaul.
“As part of Republican tax cuts in 2019 alone, our child tax credit put over $2,000 into the pockets of 40 million American families,” she said.
However, the tax overhaul bill also denied the full $1,000 child tax credit increase for more than 26 million children in low-and moderate-income families — those whose earnings are so low they owe little or no federal taxes — according to Chuck Marr, senior director of federal tax policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning think tank. Their analysis is here.
— Anneken Tappe
Outlining reasons why Americans should vote for Trump, White House social media director Dan Scavino said, “You know the President cannot be bought.”
Facts First: Trump has refused to release his tax returns, preventing the public from gaining a clear picture of his financial interests — including details of any outstanding debts.
Trump is the first President since Watergate not to divest his business interests while in office and the first President in decades not to release his tax records, which would offer the public a truer picture of his income and net worth.
His annual financial disclosures, which are self-reported and are not vetted by federal ethics officials, give only a veiled view into the President’s finances.
— Tara Subramaniam and Maegan Vazquez
Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal lawyer, claimed that failure by Congress to enact a police reform bill was to deny Trump a victory during an election year.
“It seemed for a few brief shining moments, Democrat and Republican leaders would come together with a unified proposal to reduce police misconduct. This possibility was very dangerous to the left. They had a President to beat and a country to destroy. And although an agreement on action against police brutality would be very valuable for the country, it would also make President Trump appear to be an effective leader. They could have none of that.”
Facts First: There is no indication Congress’ failure to agree on a police reform bill or demonstrators’ decisions to protest was motivated by concerns that was Trump looking too “effective.”
— Caroline Kelly
Giuliani claimed that violent crime has been increasing at percentages unheard of in the past.
“New York City once described as America’s crime capital, had become by the mid-1990s, America’s safest large city,” Giuliani said, blaming current New York Mayor Bill De Blasio. “Murders, shootings, and violent crime are increasing at percentages unheard of in the past. We’re seeing the return of rioting and looting.”
Facts First: While there have been significant increases in the rates of murder, shootings, robberies and grand larceny of automobiles in New York to date in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, violent crime rates in every major crime category tracked by NYPD are down significantly since Giuliani was mayor.
According to the NYPD’s stats, the rates of seven major felony offenses have dropped 290 percent since Giuliani was in office.
There’s been 259 murders in New York in 2020 so far this year. In the last two years — of Giuliani’s mayorship (2000 and 2001) there were 673 and 649 respectively.
Giuliani saw significant rates of crime drop during his time as mayor, but those drops have largely continued since he left office and remain significantly lower than when Giuliani was in office.
— Paul Murphy
Green New Deal
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Democrats for wanting to pass more regulations, including suggesting that Democrats want to tell Americans “how many hamburgers you can eat.”
Facts First: This is a clear exaggeration. Democrats have not called for limiting how many hamburgers Americans can eat. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Biden’s running mate, has said she would support changing dietary guidelines, a far cry from mandating what people can eat.
When asked if she would support changing dietary guidelines to reduce the consumption of red meat, Harris said she would, but that “the balance that we have to strike here, frankly, is about what government can and should do around creating incentives.”
“I love cheeseburgers from time to time,” she added.
The New York Democrat’s staff later walked back the document, but Republicans have focused on the “cow farts” line.
— Katie Lobosco
McConnell claimed, speaking of Democrats, “They want to … take away your Second Amendment rights.”
For instance, the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has proposed to “end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited.”
Along with banning the “manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Biden’s plan includes mandating that people who own assault weapons either sell them to the federal government or properly register them with the authorities, along with other measures.
Democrats certainly support more strict gun control measures than Republicans.
— Holmes Lybrand
Facts First: This is false.
Democratic congressional leaders and the presidential candidates who were running for the Democratic nomination at the time of Van Drew’s party switch — including eventual nominee Joe Biden — simply did not and do not support completely unrestricted migration.
— Daniel Dale
Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said, “Joe Biden let ISIS terrorists rampage across the Middle East. President Trump eliminated ISIS’s leader — and destroyed its caliphate.”
Though the caliphate was indeed established under the Obama administration, Obama and Biden also presided over significant progress in retaking that territory.
— Daniel Dale
This is a breaking story and will be updated.