CLEVELAND—Veracity has never been Donald Trump’s strong suit. And after a tumultuous week at the Republican National Convention, Trump accepted the GOP’s presidential nomination with a speech in which he played loose with the truth at many points.
The speech—which was leaked by a pro-Clinton group hours before Trump delivered it—painted a picture of a country in a dark place, with mayhem and murder on the streets and terrorists abroad itching to kill Americans. “Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” he said early on. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life.”
Once he takes office next year, Trump vowed, the clouds will part, the sun will come out all will be well in America. “Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored,” he said. Just how that’s going to happen is far from clear.
But America isn’t actually in the kind of dire shape that Trump made it out to be. His speech was full of cherry-picked assertions that, if not always flatly false, were, at the very least, very misleading.
Here’s our list of some of the biggest falsehoods and misdirections in his speech.
- Violent crime and homicides are way up across the country.
This was a key assertion in Trump’s “law and order” speech. He cherrypicked statistics about rising homicides in several American cities, pointing out that homicides are up in Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. And yes, the numbers he chose were correct. But what he didn’t say is that, over the long term, violent crime is way down. In the last 25 years, violent crime rates in the U.S. have decreased by almost 50%, according to data from the FBI.
It's been a hard few weeks, in a hard few months, in a hard few years. Even so, don't let Trump lie to you… pic.twitter.com/801JbfR7o3
— Annie Lowrey (@AnnieLowrey) July 21, 2016
Several of the cities Trump mentioned have seen increases in crime recently, but other cities—such as New York—saw comparable decreases in crime rates. Some experts believe that crime has simply decreased so much in the last 20 years, it basically had nowhere to go but up.
So is the recent rise of homicides in some cities concerning? Yes. But the way Trump portrayed America as suffering under a massive crime wave is highly misleading. Our nation isn’t “a divided crime scene,” as he said in the past. Instead, we are seeing spikes in a few neighborhoods in a few cities.
- Undocumented immigrants “are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.”
Again, the stats that Trump talked about are technically true but misleading. The number of undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S. over the last several years has been relatively steady. The net number of immigrants from Mexico coming across the border has been negative several years during the Obama administration.
- “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year.”
Again, this is technically true but only tells part of the story. The annual number of police officers killed in duty has dropped significantly over the last few decades, including during Obama’s presidency:
Trump also failed to address the fact that the number of police officers killed in duty—31 so far this year—pales in comparison to the number of civilians killed by police officers around the country—599 so far.
- “President Obama has doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion and growing.”
While the absolute level of our debt has gone up considerably over the last 8 years, a significant of that increase is attributable to the financial crisis of 2008, which took place before Obama was president. The debt-to-GDP ratio, a more accurate reflection of the nation's financial state, has been relatively stable over the last few years.
- Obama’s Iran deal “gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us nothing.”
"The best I can say is that he got the name of the country right. Almost nothing else in there is right," one expert told PolitiFact when they checked this a few months ago.
Trump’s $150 billion figure is likely based on the total amount of assets held up by all of the U.S. sanctions against Iran, not just those related to the Iran deal. In reality the amount of assets that will be unfrozen (not given back) is around $60 billion. In return, America will receive Iran's cooperation on a major step forward for nuclear non-proliferation, not “nothing.”
- “Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control.”
Robert Mackey, a reporter for The Intercept, tweeted out a few key words that Trump somehow forgot to include:
- “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.”
Trump has made this vague statement previously during the campaign. Earlier this year, PolitiFact found the claim to be false, noting that by just about every measure America is nowhere close to the highest-taxed countries. In the ranking of the 30 countries in the OECD (countries with developed economies), the U.S. is 27th in terms of taxation as a percent of GDP and 17th by tax revenue per capita. Compared to a wider group of countries, U.S. taxation is 12th from the bottom, PolitiFact says—far from the top.
It’s true that the U.S. has one of the highest statutory corporate tax rates in the world, but with the deductions many companies receive, the effective rate is often much lower.
With this erroneous statement, Trump justified economic policies that independent studies show would increase the national debt by huge margins.
- “My opponent, on the other hand, wants to put the great miners and steelworkers of our country out of work.”
This seems to be a reference to a statement Clinton made in a Democratic debate earlier this year. “I'm the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country,” she said. “Because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” (She never mentioned steel miners.)
But then Clinton went on to say this: “And we're going to make it clear that we don't want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories. Now we've got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don't want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.”
Clinton does want to replace coal with cleaner forms of energy—but she said she wants to help them get new jobs in new, cleaner industries. It’s misleading to suggest that she’ll be cheering at seeing miners get fired. (Only one candidate has a record of enjoying firing people.)
- “Here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else.”
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.
Summer covers the circus that is the 2016 presidential election. Although now based in Brooklyn, she considers her native LA and college residence of Chicago as her hometowns. When not geeking out about politics, she's full-time fangirling over too many bands.