Fact Check: Fact Check: Trump Is Contradictory on Comey and Misleading on Russia


President Trump defended his conduct related to the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia and made several misleading claims on Thursday afternoon.

In a joint news conference with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Mr. Trump denied there was any collusion between his campaign and Russian officials, explained why he had fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director and trumpeted his legislative agenda. Here’s an assessment.

Explaining the ousting of Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump again pointed to Mr. Rosenstein’s “very, very strong recommendation,” adding that he believed it had resulted from Mr. Comey’s “poor, poor performance” in a congressional hearing this month.

But just hours earlier on Thursday, Mr. Rosenstein told the full Senate that Mr. Trump had made his decision before Mr. Rosenstein wrote the memo. Mr. Trump himself claimed full responsibility a week earlier.

“And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,’” Mr. Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News on May 11. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”

Mr. Trump may have been referring to testimony from James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, but if so, he is distorting Mr. Clapper’s words.

In a March interview on NBC, Mr. Clapper said that, “to my knowledge,” there is no evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and stood by it in a congressional hearing on May 8. A few days later, he explained on MSNBC that “it’s not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation, or even more importantly, the content of that investigation” because he always deferred to the F.B.I. on such matters.

Mr. Comey and Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, two officials with direct knowledge of the investigation, have declined to state whether there is evidence of collusion.

Asked whether his border wall would stop drug trafficking into the United States, Mr. Trump emphatically said: “Walls work. Just ask Israel.” This comparison is not particularly apt, as the goal of Israel’s “wall” is to deter terrorists, not drugs.

The barrier, erected in 2002, “was never meant to stop all Palestinian movement into Israel,” The New York Times reported this year. “Palestinian laborers apply for permits and more than 50,000 people legally cross daily through a series of checkpoints that puncture the winding 400-mile route of the barrier.”

Israel’s fence on its border with Egypt, however, has proved to be more effective in stemming the flow of African asylum seekers.

It’s also not clear how effective a southwest border wall would be in stopping drugs from entering. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported in 2015 that the most common way of transporting drugs like heroin into the United States was stowing them in concealed compartments in vehicles through ports of entry. Other methods include using tunnels, drones, cargo trains and passenger buses — none of which would be prevented by a wall.

The tax plan the Trump administration released on April 26 consisted of a single page with bullet points. More details may emerge, but for now, the publicly available proposal would not amount to the biggest tax cut ever by most measures.

Mr. Trump’s plan would reduce the highest marginal rate for individuals to 35 percent from 39.6 percent. This change pales in comparison to other rate reductions: 33 percentage points under President Calvin Coolidge, 22 points under President Ronald Reagan, 21 points under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and 15 points under President Warren G. Harding.

In terms of nominal dollar value, Mr. Trump’s tax cut “would almost certainly be the largest in history,” according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. But as a percentage of the gross domestic product — a more appropriate measure given the dynamic size of the United States economy — it would be the third largest (2.3 percent over 10 years), after Mr. Reagan’s tax cut (2.9 percent) and President Harry S. Truman’s (2.7 percent).



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