AP FACT CHECK: Warped claims in political hothouse


WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s hot out there, politically speaking, with Hillary Clinton’s convention going full steam and Donald Trump refusing to stay quiet while Democrats put on their big show. Reality is sometimes getting warped in the process.

A look at some claims Wednesday and how they compare with the facts, on a day packed with a lengthy news conference by Trump and evening convention speeches by high-powered Democrats, President Barack Obama among them:

TRUMP: “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is. … I’ve never spoken to him.” — Miami news conference, during a discussion of whether Russia had hacked into emails of the Democratic National Committee.

THE FACTS: Not so long ago, Trump bragged about well he knew Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now he says he doesn’t know him at all. That appears to be closer to the truth.

In November, when he was trying to burnish his foreign-policy credentials during a GOP primary debate, he said of Putin, “I got to know him very well because we were both on ’60 Minutes,’ we were stablemates, and we did very well that night. “

That claim was debunked at the time because Trump’s only connection to the Russian leader was that they both appeared on the same show. He was interviewed in New York, Putin in Moscow and they weren’t even in the same segment on the program.

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VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, on Trump: “I know he’s trying to be tough but he’s going to go out and carpet bomb. You want to make friends and influence people in the Middle East? So you’re going to go carpet bomb innocent people and bad people at the same time, and that’s going to help us fight against ISIS?” — on MSNBC.

TRUMP: “I never said I wanted to carpet bomb. That was Ted Cruz.”

THE FACTS: Trump is right. It was his former Republican rival who said repeatedly he would carpet bomb Islamic State targets.

Carpet bombing, by its nature, risks killing large numbers of innocent civilians because it is indiscriminate.

Trump has indeed talked tough about IS, vowing to “bomb the hell” out of the group, level the oil facilities it controls and “blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.” He didn’t say what there would be nothing left of: an IS encampment, for example, or a city? But he did not call for carpet bombing; Biden put Cruz’s words in Trump’s mouth.

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TRUMP: “I never had a second thought in my life.”

THE FACTS: He may want to have a second thought about that thought.

In April, Trump told The New York Times that he should not have retweeted an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, wife of GOP primary rival Ted Cruz. “Yeah, it was a mistake,” he said. “If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it.”

Then in May, he had a third thought.

He told Fox News that “I’m not walking it back” after all, and Mrs. Cruz was fair game because she was so involved in the campaign.

Then in the same interview, he had a fourth thought that was much like the second one: “I wish I didn’t do it.”

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TRUMP: Hillary Clinton “lied about TPP,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposed trade deal. “She was for TPP, she saw me on television knocking the hell out of it because it’s a horror show, it’s going to kill all our jobs, it’s going to be almost as bad as NAFTA, maybe worse — which her husband signed, by the way, which destroyed this country, destroyed manufacturing in the United States.”

THE FACTS: Clinton did argue in favor of the Pacific deal when she was secretary of state, calling it the “gold standard” of trade agreements, and flip-flopped since she became a presidential candidate. There’s no evidence, however, that she switched because of Trump’s position. At the time she was running for the Democratic nomination against Bernie Sanders, a strong opponent of the deal. As to the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a report by the Congressional Research Service last year said its effect on the nation’s economy “appears to have been relatively small.”

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TRUMP: “I am a person that believes in enhanced interrogation, yes. And by the way, it works.”

THE FACTS: While some intelligence officials still maintain the torture of terrorist suspects thwarted plots, none has pointed to a specific instance. The Senate intelligence committee’s report in late 2014 concluded that no actionable intelligence was gained from the detainees who were put in ice baths, threatened with death, kept in cages, waterboarded and subjected to sleep deprivation, booming music and other forms of psychological torture.

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TRUMP: “Hundreds of people walked out of the Democrat convention last night. I didn’t even hear about it. Nobody showed it. “

THE FACTS: If he didn’t hear about it, how does he know about it?

The walkout by disenchanted supporters of Bernie Sanders was widely reported at the time.

Did hundreds walk out in protest? That’s conceivable but impossible to know with precision because this happened at the same time as people were leaving for dinner.

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TRUMP: “I have nothing to do with Russia, yes… I built an unbelievable company but if you look there you’ll see there’s nothing in Russia.”

THE FACTS: Trump staged the Miss Universe competition in Russia, traveled there for it and boasted that it drew “almost all the oligarchs.”

There’s no evidence, though, that he has financial ties to Russia. He has neither developed properties nor licensed his name to buildings there, though he’s tried.

He has sold property to Russians, such as a $100 million Palm Beach, Florida, home in 2008.

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Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann, Jim Drinkard and Jeff Horwitz contributed to this report.

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