Donald Trump is known to have an on again, off again relationship with the truth.
Mostly off again, it seems.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking site PolitiFact rates statements made by politicians on a scale from “True” to “Pants on Fire,” and during the course of his campaign, Trump has made a whopping 43 Pants on Fire statements.
Of those 43 Pants on Fire statements, the following five are the most blatantly false.
1. Thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11
At a November 2015 rally in Birmingham, Alabama, about a week after terror attacks in Paris left over 100 dead, Donald Trump said the following:
“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
There have been rumors of a story like this circulating on some sites for years, but there is no video record or any other kind of evidence that shows thousands of people in New Jersey cheered as the twin towers fell.
The next day, George Stephanopoulos gave Trump a chance to clarify his statements. “The police say that didn’t happen… did you misspeak yesterday?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations,” Trump answered. “They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well-covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time.”
But this story wasn’t “well-covered at the time.” It wasn’t covered at all, because it didn’t happen. There is a video of Muslims in Palestine celebrating 9/11, but Palestine isn’t New Jersey. It’s on the other side of the world.
Trump has a very active imagination, or maybe he just made the whole thing up.
2. Ted Cruz’s dad was close to Lee Harvey Oswald
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot,” Trump said about Ted Cruz on the day before the Indiana primary. “I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right, prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up… What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
Trump is referring to a story from the National Enquirer, which isn’t exactly known to be a reliable publication. And even by National Enquirer standards, the evidence behind this claim is very thin – it’s all based on a series of grainy photographs from the ’60s that show a guy who kind of, sort of, maybe looks like Rafael Cruz standing next to Oswald.
It was incredibly misleading for Trump to infer that a connection between Cruz and Oswald was ever actually confirmed.
3. “Crime is rising”
At any Trump event, the candidate makes one message especially clear: America is more dangerous than it used to be, and he is much more equipped than his opponent to Make America Safe Again.
“Crime is rising,” Trump said in his victory speech after winning the New York primary in June.
But FBI data shows that both violent crime and property crime have steadily declined in the United States over the past two decades. Justice Department data shows the same.
Even Trump seems to know this now. When it came time to deliver the biggest political speech of his life at the Republican National Convention, Trump used a lot more caveats when he talked about crime. “Homicides last year increased by 17% in America’s fifty largest cities,” he said. That very specific claim is true. The blanket statement of “crime is rising” is not.
4. Clinton’s refugee policy would cost more than rebuilding every inner city in America
“Hillary also wants to spend hundreds of billions to resettle Middle Eastern refugees in the United States, on top of the current record level of immigration,” Trump said in June of this year. “For the amount of money Hillary Clinton would like to spend on refugees, we could rebuild every inner city in America.”
Hundreds of billions? Where did Trump get that number?
Who knows. There’s no record of it anywhere.
What we do know is that the Obama administration allocated $2.2 billion to assist 100,000 refugees in 2017.
Clinton has said that she would like to take in an additional 60,000 – 70,000 refugees from Syria. If 100,000 refugees costs $2.2 billion a year, a total of 170,000 refugees shouldn’t cost more than $4 billion – far less than hundreds of billions, and not nearly enough to “rebuild every inner city in America.”
5. Clinton wants to release all violent prisoners
At the NRA’s National Convention in May, here’s what Donald Trump had to say:
“President Obama pushed for changes to sentencing laws that released thousands of dangerous drug trafficking felons and gang members who prey on civilians. This is Hillary Clinton’s agenda, too, to release the violent criminals from jail. She wants them all released.”
Clinton has never given any indication that she wants to release all violent criminals. That would be crazy. Even the most liberal politicians in the U.S. would never say that. There’s pretty much a consensus in modern society that murderers and such should be separated from the general population.
On the Criminal Justice Reform page of her campaign website, Clinton does make many mentions of reducing punishments for nonviolent offenders – but she goes out of her way to clarify that she’s talking about nonviolent criminals only, and she makes this distinction in speeches and interviews as well. Trump’s claim here is completely baseless.