He gave fact checkers only a brief respite. Back to Washington and back to doing interviews and campaign rallies, Trump made 81 false claims last week. That is tied for the fifth-highest total in the 27 weeks we have counted at CNN.

It was an eclectic batch of dishonesty. Among other things, Trump took unearned credit for both the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace agreement and for the drop in the US cancer death rate, absurdly claimed that NATO “had no money” before his presidency, wrongly denied that his golf excursions cost taxpayers any money, and repeated his usual varied inaccuracies about impeachment, immigration and the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Trump made 27 of the false claims at his campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio. He made 16 more in a Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham. He made six in his speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations, plus 10 in his exchange with reporters after the speech.

Trump’s total of 81 false claims last week was above his average of about 61 per week. Trump is now up to 1,636 false claims since July 8, an average of about nine per day.

The most egregious false claim: Smearing Democrats

Prominent Democrats had a consistent response to Trump’s decision to kill Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani: criticize Trump’s decision and say nothing nice about Soleimani.

Trump nonetheless claimed that they were saying nice things about the top Iranian general.

Trump recounts minute-by-minute details of Soleimani strike to donors at Mar-a-Lago
Trump takes credit for decline in cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society says he's wrong

Appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on January 6, Trump said, “Democrats are trying to make him sound like he was this wonderful human being.” Speaking to reporters after his January 9 speech on environmental regulation, he claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in particular was “trying to defend this monster from Iran.”

At a press conference the very same morning as Trump’s regulation event, Pelosi had called Soleimani a “terrible person” who “did bad things.”

The most revealing false claim: Ethiopia and the Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in large part for Ahmed’s successful effort to make a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea.

Trump is an incorrigible acclaim-seeker who has been open about his desire for a Nobel. At his January 9 rally, he claimed that he was a more deserving recipient than Ahmed — not for some other initiative of his own but because, he suggested, he was the one who actually made Ethiopia’s big deal. “I made a deal. I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country,” he complained.
This left Ethiopians baffled. Experts on Ethiopia say there is no sign Trump played an important role in the deal.

The most absurd false claim: Trump and cancer

The American Cancer Society issued a report saying that the cancer death rate had fallen in 2017 for the 26th consecutive year. Trump suggested his administration was somehow responsible for this 26th decline. “U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History! A lot of good news coming out of this Administration,” he tweeted.

This seemed clearly dishonest, but it wasn’t clear that the American Cancer Society would be willing to say so: big organizations tend to want to avoid contradicting the President on even his most obvious falsehoods.

The Society’s CEO, Gary M. Reedy, stepped up to the fact check plate — diplomatically, but unequivocally. “The mortality trends reflected in our current report, including the largest drop in overall cancer mortality ever recorded from 2016 to 2017, reflect prevention, early detection, and treatment advances that occurred in prior years,” Reedy said in a statement to CNN.

Here is this week’s full list of 81 false claims, starting with the ones we haven’t previously included in one of the weekly roundups:

Iran

The Democrats and Soleimani

“He was a terrorist. You know, they don’t want to call him a terrorist. Now the Democrats are trying to make him sound like he was this wonderful human being.” — January 6 interview with Rush Limbaugh
“What — you know what I — what bothers me? When I see a Nancy Pelosi trying to defend this monster from Iran, who has killed so many people, who has so badly — I mean, so many people are walking around now without legs and without arms. Because he was the big roadside bomb guy. He was the one who would send them to Afghanistan. He would send him to Iraq. He was big. That was his favorite thing. He thought it was wonderful. He doesn’t think it’s wonderful anymore. When Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to defend him, I think that’s a very bad thing for this country. I think that’s a big losing argument, politically, too.” — January 9 exchange with reporters after speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations
“Where have the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats gone when they have spent the last 3 days defending the life of Qassem Soleimani, one of the worst terrorists in history and the father of the roadside bomb?” — January 11 tweet

Facts First: Pelosi and other prominent Democrats have not defended Soleimani or tried to portray him as “wonderful.” They have criticized Trump’s decision to kill him, but they have offered no defense of his actions or personality.

Pelosi called the killing “provocative and disproportionate” and argued that it put American soldiers, diplomats and other citizens at risk. But she called Soleimani a “terrible person” who “did bad things,” explicitly emphasizing that her opposition to killing him was not based in any sympathy for him or for Iran.

You can read a longer fact-check here.

A 2016 incident with Iran

Talking about a January 2016 incident in which Navy sailors were detained by Iran after they strayed into Iranian territorial waters, Trump said, “But you remember the 10 sailors that were 15 feet across that line, probably they weren’t — they don’t even know if they were in Iranian waters, but they said they were slightly in Iranian waters, so they humiliated them.” — January 6 interview with Rush Limbaugh

Facts First: It’s not true that the sailors were a mere “15 feet” into Iranian territorial waters when they were confronted, and there is no dispute about whether the sailors were indeed in Iranian waters. (Trump did not specify who “they” were when he said “they” don’t even know if the sailors were in Iranian waters, but he is wrong regardless.)

A US Navy investigation into the incident concluded that the sailors were 1.5 nautical miles from Iran’s Farsi Island, clearly within Iranian waters. “It was reasonable for Iran to investigate the unusual appearance of armed U.S. Naval vessels within territorial waters so close to its shores,” the investigation concluded. (The investigation also faulted Iran for its handling of the incident, but its criticism of Iran was not at all about where the sailors were located.) An illustrated map released by the US Navy also makes clear that the sailors were not mere feet from “that line” when they were stopped by Iran. Iranian and US officials told media outlets at the time that Iran’s territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from the island, a standard distance.

Ukraine and impeachment

The articles of impeachment

“They’re making things up. This is the craziest thing anyone’s ever seen, and the two articles that they put in, as you know, they’re not crimes, they’re not — they’re not even allowed to be put in. It’s a disgrace.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham
Facts First: The two articles of impeachment against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are indeed “allowed.” While the Constitution says presidents can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the “high crimes and misdemeanors” do not have to be criminal offenses. The Constitution leaves it up to Congress to determine what qualifies.

John Bolton and Ukraine

Question: “Will you be okay if John Bolton testifies? He indicated yesterday that he would if he is subpoenaed.” Trump: “Well, that’s going to be up to the lawyers. It will be up the Senate. And we’ll see how they feel. He would know nothing about what we’re talking about, because if you know, the Ukrainian government came out with a very strong statement — no pressure, no anything.” — January 7 exchange with reporters at meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Facts First: Trump was vague, but it is obviously false that Bolton “would know nothing” about the dealings with Ukraine that led to Trump’s impeachment. According to witness testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser until September, was present in relevant meetings — with Trump, with other administration officials and with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — and had additional relevant conversations with key players on Trump’s Ukraine team.

Here is a list of just some of the exchanges Bolton could be able to testify about.

A quote from Rep. Devin Nunes

Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, appeared on Fox News and criticized the Intelligence Committee Inspector General Michael Atkinson. Trump claimed he was quoting Nunes when he tweeted on January 12, “The Democrats know the ICIG is a major problem-didn’t release his testimony. Looks so much like everything else we’ve seen, from the Russia Hoax, to the Ukraine Hoax that became the Impeachment Scam. Must get the ICIG answers by Friday because this is the guy who lit the fuse.”

Facts First: Trump’s rendition of the quote had Nunes using stronger language than Nunes actually did. Nunes did not say anything “must” happen by Friday; he said, “Well, I think it’s pertinent that the ICIG get these answers by Friday.”

Trump’s tweet also omitted multiple sentences that Nunes also uttered, but the omissions don’t significantly change the meaning.

The timing of military aid to Ukraine

Speaking of the military aid to Ukraine, Trump said, “And, by the way, in terms of the money, it got there two or three weeks ahead of schedule — long before it was supposed to be there.” — January 7 exchange with reporters at meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Facts First: This was wrong. The aid did not arrive weeks “ahead of schedule.” While Trump did lift his freeze on the aid on September 11, more than two weeks before a September 30 legal deadline, the delay caused by Trump’s freeze meant that $35 million of the aid could not make it out the door in time to meet the deadline, according to impeachment testimony from Mark Sandy, deputy associate director for national security in the Office of Management and Budget. To deal with this problem, Congress had to pass an extension of the deadline. “Had that provision not been included, then any unobligated funds as of September 30th would have expired,” Sandy testified.
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan watchdog agency that works for Congress, concluded that the aid freeze broke a law, the Impoundment Control Act. (The office’s report was released the week after Trump made this comment. You can read a full story here.)

Foreign affairs and the military

The fight against ISIS

“Three months ago, after destroying 100% of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi…” — January 8 speech on Iran

“We’ve gotten rid of ISIS.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: Trump can accurately boast about the elimination of 100% of ISIS’ self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Syria, but it’s not true that 100% of ISIS itself has been eliminated; the terrorist group existed before it seized territory and continues to exist after it lost that territory. ISIS is still a threat in the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan; ISIS affiliates continue to claim responsibility for attacks elsewhere; and the US government continues to warn about ISIS’ ability to inspire “homegrown” terrorists around the world.

The Nobel Peace Prize, Ethiopia and Eritrea

“I mean, I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize. I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal. I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said, what — did I have something to do with it? Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters, OK? I saved a big war, saved a couple of them…” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio
Facts First: Trump did not make the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal that led to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, experts on the region say. While American diplomats did play a role in laying the groundwork for the negotiations — it is not clear how important they were — experts said Trump was certainly not the central player.
“In my view, the initiative is purely Ethiopian,” said Awol Allo, an associate professor of law and Horn of Africa analyst at Keele University in England, “and even if we assume that the Americans have played some role, it is not clear to me how that makes Trump an obvious candidate. Trump has never been to Ethiopia and has never said a word about the conflict between these two countries, at least in public. If there is anyone who could claim some credit for the deal between the two countries, it should be Middle Eastern powers, particularly the United Arab Emirates,” which had a key mediating role.
Trump might perhaps have been referring to his effort to broker a deal between Ethiopia and Egypt in a dispute over a dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile river, a tributary of the Nile. But that dispute had not been resolved at the time of his complaint about the Nobel, so Trump could not have accurately claimed here to have made any successful deal.

Allo, who said he was one of the people who nominated Ahmed for the prize, emphasized that even Ahmed did not “save” any country, though Ahmed did do “some really amazing things.” Both Eritrea and Ethiopia would have continued to exist with or without the deal, Allo said.

NATO’s headquarters

Speaking critically about NATO’s history, Trump said, “Well, they build an office building for $3 billion. They do lots of things that they shouldn’t be doing, before I got here.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: NATO does have an expensive new headquarters building, but Trump was exaggerating its cost. NATO told CNN on Tuesday that the building was constructed for a sum under the approved budget of 1.178 billion euro, or about $1.311 billion at Tuesday exchange rates, less than half the amount Trump claimed.

NATO before Trump

“So when I came in, as you know, NATO was virtually a dead organization. It had no money. Nobody was paying except us. Practically nobody was paying.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: NATO was very much alive before Trump took office in January 2017. And the US was not the only one “paying,” no matter how you measure.

NATO countries other than the US spent a total of $262 billion on defense in 2016, according to official NATO figures (which use 2015 prices and exchange rates). The US spent $651 billion itself that year, more than two-thirds of the total, but it’s not true that the US was the only one “paying” if this is what Trump was referring to.
NATO also has its own direct budget to fund its operations. While the US was also the biggest contributor to this budget in 2016, covering about 22%, it was, clearly, not alone; Germany covered about 15%, France about 11%, the United Kingdom about 10%, and so on. Countries’ contributions were set based on their national income.

Economy

Factory losses

“Probably it’s the reason, number one reason I’m running: America lost 60,000 factories under the previous administration, 60,000. You wouldn’t believe that’s possible, but I know it’s true, because I’ve said it 50 times and the fakers back there, they’ve never corrected me. No, it’s true. No, it’s true. If I were slightly off, if it were, if I was off by two factories, there’d be a headline: ‘Donald Trump told a fib.'” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: Here, Trump was wrong twice — both with his claim about 60,000 factories being lost during President Barack Obama’s administration and with his assertion that he had made the same claim 50 times before. In fact, he has repeatedly said, correctly, that the US lost 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations.
There are different ways to measure the number of factories in the country. According to the Census Bureau’s Statistics of US Businesses data series, the number of manufacturing establishments in the US fell by 61,076 between 2001, the beginning of the George W. Bush administration — when there were 352,619 establishments — and 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, when there were 291,543 establishments. That’s a reduction of about 17%.
But under Obama alone, from 2009 through 2016, the decline was much smaller: 308,934 establishments to 291,543 establishments, a difference of 17,391 or about 6%.

Environmental approvals, part 1

“Right now, it takes over seven years, and oftentimes much longer — and seven years is like record time — to complete approvals for a simple highway, the simplest of them.” — January 9 speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: Trump was exaggerating when he said “seven years is like record time.” Mary Neumayr, chairwoman of the Trump administration’s Council on Environmental Quality, said at the same event that “it takes over seven years on average” for federal agencies to complete the environmental impact statement process for highway projects. She added that “many projects have taken a decade or more” — but “over seven years” is, again, an average, not “record time.”

Environmental approvals, part 2

“…today, it can take more than 10 years just to get a permit to build a simple road — just a very simple road. And usually, you’re not even able to get the permit. It’s unusual when you get it.” — January 9 speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: Trump did not specify what he meant by “simple road,” but he was inaccurate even if he was talking about highways. While it can indeed take more than 10 years for some highway projects to receive environmental approvals, it isn’t true that “usually, you’re not even able to get the permit.” Brad Karkkainen, a University of Minnesota law professor and expert on environmental and land use law, said in an email: “Trump’s statement that most of the time you can’t get the permit is just flatly wrong, by a wide margin. Just a complete fabrication.”

Karkkainen noted that the vast majority of proposed actions assessed by the federal government under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) “sail through” without having to go through an Environmental Impact Statement process, the most comprehensive form of environmental review. Precise numbers for road and highway projects are not available, but in 2014, the Obama administration’s Council on Environmental Quality estimated that about 95% of all analyses under NEPA (not only for highway projects) were classified as “Categorical Exclusions,” meaning that the proposals did not require either the full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or even the quicker process known as an Environmental Assessment (EA).

“You can’t assume that every project that gets an EA is ultimately approved, but the vast majority are. And beyond that, most of the 250 or so (per year) that get full-scale EISs also go through, albeit sometimes with modifications to mitigate environmental harms and/or to quell political opposition,” Karkkainen said.

Karkkainen said highway might well have a higher failure rate than other kinds of projects, given how complex and politically controversial they can be, but it’s still not true that most are rejected.

Canadian tariffs

Touting his USMCA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, Trump said that the tariffs Canada had on American farmers “were so terrible,” but now “all of that goes away.” — January 9 interview with WTVG 13abc Toledo
Facts First: Trump was vague here, but it’s not true that all Canadian agricultural tariffs “go away” in the USMCA. Most notably, most of the dairy tariffs Trump repeatedly denounced during the USMCA negotiations were left in place by the agreement. (Trump did secure concessions from Canada to allow greater market access for American dairy farmers, but the tariffs themselves were not altered. (The tariffs apply to American exports that exceed the Canadian quotas.)
Under NAFTA, the agreement the USMCA revises, most American agricultural trade with Canada was already tariff-free.

Popularity

The crowd in Toledo

“I’m going to Ohio in a little while. We have crowds of people that for, two-and-a-half, three days, have been standing out in the cold. I don’t know how they do it. They’re strong people. But they’ve been out there, and it’s pretty much zero degrees. ” — January 9 exchange with reporters after speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. According to local news station WTOL 11, the first person in line for the Thursday night rally arrived at 12:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday — just under 24 hours before Trump made this remark, not “two and a half, three days.”
And it was cold outside, but it wasn’t quite “pretty much zero degrees” unless Trump was using the Celsius system without telling us. Using America’s Fahrenheit system, the temperature dropped into the teens in the Toledo area the night before the rally.

Trump’s approval rating

“53% Approval Rating overall (can we add 7 to 10 percent because of the Trump ‘thing?’). Thank you!” — January 11 tweet
Facts First: There is no apparent basis for Trump’s claim to have a 53% overall approval rating. As of the day prior to this tweet, Trump was at 41.8% approval in FiveThirtyEight’s aggregate of polls, with 53.5% disapproval. We could not find any recent poll that put him at 53%. The Trump campaign did not respond to our request to identify the supposed poll Trump was mentioning.
It is possible Trump was taking an actual poll result and adding 10 points to his approval rating because of what he called the “Trump ‘thing'” — what he claims is a phenomenon in which his supporters decline to tell pollsters that they support him. But even if there are some shy Trump supporters, this is just not how approval ratings work; you can’t take the findings of a poll and give yourself a guessed number of additional approval points.

Trump’s golfing

Mocking Obama for golfing in Hawaii — where Obama was born and liked to vacation — Trump said, “I drive to play a round of golf at a course I own; it doesn’t even cost them anything. He flies to Hawaii, nobody cares. If I drive 20 minutes, it’s like, ‘Donald Trump is playing golf today.'” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: It’s not true that Trump playing golf at his own courses does not cost taxpayers money.

As The Washington Post reported last week, the Secret Service has disclosed that it has spent $588,000 on golf carts alone since 2017 to protect and escort Trump during his outings.
The Post reported in November on separate Secret Service spending that appeared to be related to Trump’s golfing: “On April 2, 2017, for instance, Trump played golf at his club in suburban Virginia — a short drive from the White House. That day, the records show, the Secret Service made five payments to ‘Trump National Golf Club’ totaling $26,802, the records show. Between May 31, 2017, and June 5, 2017, Trump played golf twice at the Virginia course, according to news reports…The Secret Service reported paying $29,000 to the Trump golf club then. On May 7, Trump was staying at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Secret Service records show $16,000 in spending at ‘Trump National Golf Club’ that day.”

Trump’s trips from the White House to his golf course in nearby Virginia do require only a drive. His golf outings in Florida and New Jersey, however, require helicopter and plane flights from Washington.

Cancer deaths

“U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History! A lot of good news coming out of this Administration.” — January 9 tweet

Facts First: The good news about the record low cancer death rate — in 2017 — was not news “coming out of this Administration.” The American Cancer Society wrote the report to which Trump was referring; its chief executive officer, Gary M. Reedy, told CNN that the data in the report reflects “prevention, early detection, and treatment advances that occurred in prior years,” before Trump’s presidency.

The cancer death rate declined “continuously” from 1991 to 2017, the American Cancer Society said in the report. Obviously, Trump could not even possibly have been responsible for the declines from 1991 through 2016.

You can read a longer fact check here.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s academic record

“AOC knows nothing. Poor student, poor everything, and then she comes and she talks about the Green New Deal and all these poor fools say, ‘Oh, isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it wonderful?'” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: “Poor” is vague, but still, there is no apparent basis for calling Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman, a “poor student.” She graduated cum laude from Boston University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with majors in international relations and economics. As a high school student in 2007, she placed second in the Microbiology category at the International Science and Engineering Fair, as fact check website Snopes previously reported.
The top 5% of students in a Boston University graduating class are honored as summa cum laude, the next 10% as magna cum laude, the 15% after that as cum laude — so Ocasio-Cortez had higher grades than at least 70% of her peers.

Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment on Trump’s claim.

2016 campaign spending

“I mean, crooked Hillary spent three or four times more money than us, right?…Crooked Hillary spent three or four times more.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: It’s true that Hillary Clinton outspent Trump in the 2016 campaign, but not by three or four times. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a money-in-politics watchdog, Clinton’s campaign spent $563.4 million and Trump’s campaign $325.5 million, which means the Clinton total is less than double what Trump spent.

Clinton had far more spending support from outside groups promoting her candidacy — $230.1 million for her versus $72.1 million for outside groups promoting Trump, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — than Trump did. But even if you add up the Clinton campaign’s own spending, spending by pro-Clinton outside groups and spending by the Democratic National Committee, it is not even double the spending by Trump’s campaign, spending by pro-Trump outside groups and spending by the Republican National Committee.

CNN’s camera

Trump accused Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff of leaking stories to CNN. Egging on the crowd, Trump called CNN “crazy,” then pointed to the back of the venue, and said, as if spotting CNN’s camera, “See, with a little red light on.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: CNN did not have a red light on as Trump was speaking. CNN’s photojournalists do not use red lights on their cameras at his rallies.

We know this is a small thing, but Trump has made repeated false claims at rallies about CNN’s cameras. (He usually claims that CNN’s “red light” has vanished when he has attacked CNN, supposedly proving that CNN has stopped broadcasting live or stopped filming. In reality, CNN’s cameras at his rallies are set so that no light goes on and off as they go live or stop going live, or as they record or stop recording.)

Repeats

Here are the repeat false claims we have previously fact checked in a weekly roundup:

Iran

The size of the Iran deal

Trump claimed six times that President Barack Obama or his administration gave Iran $150 billion as part of their agreement on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Facts First: The sum in question was Iranian money frozen in foreign financial institutions because of sanctions, not US government money — and experts say the total was significantly lower than $150 billion. You can read a fuller fact check here.

The length of the Iran deal

Trump claimed on four occasions that the nuclear deal with Iran expires “shortly,” “so soon,” “very soon,” or in “a very short period of time.”

Facts First: Some central provisions of the nuclear agreement with Iran were written to expire in the next 10 years. But the deal as a whole — including a blanket prohibition on Iran developing nuclear weapons — was written to continue in perpetuity, and some provisions run until 2035 and 2040. You can read a longer fact check here.

Military and war

NATO spending increases

Trump claimed twice that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “just announced $530 billion” in increased spending by non-US NATO members. In one of these cases, he claimed this supposed $530 billion was “all because of me.”

Facts First: Trump’s math was wrong. Stoltenberg explained during a meeting with Trump on December 3 that non-US NATO members have added a total of $130 billion to their defense budgets since 2016. By 2024, Stoltenberg said, “this number will increase to $400 billion.”

The $130 billion current increase cannot be added to the $400 billion increase expected by 2024; the $400 billion is a cumulative figure that includes the $130 billion.

Military planes

“After years and years of devastating defense cuts, we have fully rebuilt the United States military. Some of it’s still coming in. We have everything. We’ve got new planes, we’ve got new rockets, missiles, we’ve got new everything, and it’s either here or coming in, $2.5 trillion in new investments.” And: “What we have now, we’ve never had anything like it. You know, we were looking at planes that were old and tired, 50-, 60-year old planes. You’ve heard this story. The grandfather flew them, the son flew them, the current wonderful person flew them, the whole family flew them. Those are all gone now, folks. Those are all gone.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: This was a major exaggeration. While Trump’s administration has invested in new military planes, it is not even close to true that the US military has “new everything” or that the old planes “are all gone now.”

In December 2018, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the average Air Force plane in 2017 was 28.3 years old: “They range widely in age from the 75 new aircraft that entered service in 2017 to the 21 60-year-old KC-135 tankers that entered service in 1958. The largest share of the fleet is 26–30 years old.” The average age for fighter and attack planes was 26.4 years, for bombers 42.0 years, for tankers 53.7 years.

Veterans Choice

Trump told an extended story about how he had supposedly come up with the idea for the Veterans Choice health care program only to be told that people had been unsuccessfully trying to get such a program approved for “48 years.” Trump added, “But you know what I’m good at? Getting things approved. And we got it approved.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: The Veterans Choice bill, a bipartisan initiative led by Sens. Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain, was signed into law by Obama in 2014. In 2018, Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which expanded and changed the program.

NATO spending trends

Trump claimed three times that military spending by non-US NATO members was declining before he took office and reversed the trend.

Facts First: Military spending by NATO members had increased for two years prior to Trump’s presidency. According to the latest NATO figures released in November, spending increased by 1.7% in 2015 and 3.0% in 2016.

Previous presidents and NATO

“And I went over, and I said folks, you got to pay your bills, you’re delinquent, you know, you’re delinquent. And then, they don’t like me. They say, ‘We like Obama better.’ They should like Obama better. Obama would go in and say, ‘Thank you very much for coming. I appreciate it. Bye-bye.'” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: It’s not true that Obama never pushed NATO members to increase their military spending. Obama and predecessor George W. Bush both did so, though their public language was less confrontational than Trump’s has been.

Obama repeatedly urged NATO allies to spend more. “If we’ve got a collective defense, it means that everybody’s got to chip in, and I’ve had some concerns about a diminished level of defense spending among some of our partners in NATO,” Obama said in 2014. “The situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn’t free and we’ve got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, the training that’s required to make sure that we have a credible NATO force and an effective deterrent force.”

At Bush’s final NATO summit, in 2008, Bush called on NATO allies to “increase their defense investments to support both NATO and EU operations.”

The Turkey-Syria border

“One thing, I moved my troops out of Syria — on the border between Turkey and Syria. That turned out to be such a successful move, Laura. Look what happened. Now they protect their own — they’ve been fighting over that border for 1,000 years. Why should we do it?” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: There is no basis for the claim that there has been fighting over the Turkey-Syria border for 1,000 years; modern-day Turkey and Syria were both part of the Ottoman Empire that was only dissolved after World War I, and the border between them is less than 100 years old.

“The border he refers to — the Turkish-Syria border — was established in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne and the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The exception to this is the province of Hatay, which passed from Syrian to Turkish control following a referendum,” said Lisel Hintz, assistant professor of international relations and European studies at Johns Hopkins, who called a previous version of Trump’s claim — in which Trump said there had been fighting for “2,000” years — “patently and irresponsibly false.”

The defense agreement with South Korea

“South Korea gave us $500 million. They’ve never gave us — they gave us $500 million. I said you got to help us along…You’ve got to pay. And they gave us $500 million. I mean you saw that breaking news because nobody wants to report that stuff. I’m not sure anybody knows it. It might be sort of saying you have some — I mean, that’s good stuff. But they’re a wealthy country.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: Trump exaggerated the size of the increase in South Korea’s payments to the US for the American troops stationed in the country. As the New York Times reported in February when debunking an earlier version of Trump’s “$500 million” claim: “Under the one-year deal, this year South Korea will pay 1.04 trillion won, or $925 million, an increase of $70 million from last year’s $855 million.”
Trump is now trying to get South Korea to agree to a much larger increase for 2020.

Trump’s position on the war in Iraq

“I didn’t want to be there in first place, to be honest, and everybody knows that. That was when I was a civilian, I said it. But we were there, and they made a decision, and I disagreed with that decision very strongly. But we’re there now.” — January 7 exchange with reporters at meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Facts First: Trump did not publicly oppose the invasion of Iraq before it began. Trump was tentatively supportive of the war when radio host Howard Stern asked him in September 2002, “Are you for invading Iraq?” He responded: “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.” The day after the invasion in March 2003, he said, “It looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.” Trump did not offer a definitive position on the looming war in a Fox News interview in January 2003, saying, “Either you attack or don’t attack.”

Trump started publicly questioning the war later in 2003, and he was an explicit opponent in 2014. You can read a full fact check here.

Ukraine and impeachment

European aid to Ukraine

Trump claimed that France, Germany, and “all of those countries in Europe” are not “paying” money to Ukraine. He asked, “Why aren’t they paying? Why is it always the United States that has to pay?” — January 7 exchange with reporters at meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Facts First: European countries, including France and Germany, have provided hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged European “help” during his meeting with Trump at the United Nations in September, though he said the world’s efforts had been inadequate so far: “And, I’m sorry, but we don’t need help; we need support. Real support. And we thank — thank everybody, thank all of the European countries; they each help us. But we also want to have more — more.”

You can read a full fact check here.

The whistleblowers

“And I’d love to bring in the informant who disappeared. I’d love to bring in the second whistleblower who disappeared.” And: “I want to know what happened to the second whistleblower, what happened to the informer? Remember that, an informer.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

“And the second whistleblower — Jon, whatever happened to the second whistleblower? The second whistleblower disappeared. There probably was none or maybe we know who the second whistleblower was. Maybe we do. But he never showed up.” — January 9 exchange with reporters after speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: There is no evidence that either the first whistleblower (who filed the complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine) or the second whistleblower (whose lawyers said they had firsthand information corroborating claims made by the first whistleblower) “disappeared,” nor that the first whistleblower’s sources in the administration have “disappeared.” Whistleblowers have no obligation to speak publicly.

“The whistleblowers have not vanished,” Bradley Moss, a colleague of Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the two whistleblowers, said on Twitter in October, when Trump made another version of this claim.
The first whistleblower’s lawyers, Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, wrote in the Washington Post in October: “Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.”

The second whistleblower never planned to file a separate whistleblower complaint, merely to offer corroborating information in private.

The accuracy of the whistleblower

“I’d love to have the whistleblower who wrote a fake report.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been proven highly accurate. In fact, the rough transcript released by Trump himself showed that the whistleblower’s three primary allegations about the call were correct or very close to correct. You can read a full fact check here.

The rough transcript

“We released the exact transcript, and it turned out to be totally different.” — January 9 exchange with reporters after speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: The document released by the White House explicitly says, on the first page, that it is not an exact transcript of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, testified to Congress that he tried to make edits to the document to include two things that were said on the call but not included in the document. Vindman testified that the document was “substantively correct,” but he made clear that it was not a verbatim account.

Zelensky’s comments

“The President of Ukraine said I did absolutely nothing wrong, he said I had no pressure whatsoever. He didn’t even know what we were talking about.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did say there had been “no pressure” from Trump and made other statements to that effect, but he has not gone so far as to say Trump did “nothing wrong.”
In an interview published by Time magazine in early December, Zelensky did say, “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing.” But Zelensky continued: “I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”

A quote from Rep. Al Green

“So they can’t win an election that’s going to take place in 10 months, they know that, and they only thing they can do — it’s like with their Congressman Green, when he said, ‘We can’t beat him, we have to impeach him.'” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: Trump was at least slightly exaggerating Green’s comments. In May, Green said this: “I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this President, he will get reelected.” In September, when Trump previously claimed Green had said “we can’t” beat Trump without impeachment, Green told CNN, “I never said we can’t beat the President.”

The timing of Rep. Adam Schiff’s comments

“I’d like to hear from — he’s a corrupt politician, Adam Schiff. He’s corrupt. He gave a sentence. You know, he never knew I was going to release the transcript. He gave a sentence that he made up. He made it up. And it was not the — it was not what was said in the conversation. That’s why I released the transcript; got approval from Ukraine. We released the exact transcript, and it turned out to be totally different.” — January 9 exchange with reporters after speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: Trump can reasonably criticize Schiff for Schiff’s comments at a House Intelligence Committee hearing in September; as we’ve written before, Schiff’s mix of near-quotes from Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, his own analysis, and supposed “parody” was at the very least confusing. But Schiff spoke the day after Trump released the rough transcript, not before Trump released the transcript.

Immigration

The diversity visa lottery

“How about the lottery? It’s called visa lottery. How about this? They put their hand — ‘These people are going to America’…But from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador we have…So anyway, but in Honduras and Guatemala, they have like this lottery…” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: Foreign governments don’t conduct the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program lottery for US green cards. The US State Department conducts the lottery.

The people whose names are selected are subjected to an extensive vetting process that includes a criminal background check.

Deportations to Honduras and Guatemala

Trump claimed that, under previous administrations, Honduras and Guatemala refused to accept criminals the US wanted to deport back, even refusing to let the US land its planes on their soil.

Facts First: Trump was mixing up two separate issues. While the Trump administration does have new agreements with all Guatemala and Honduras, those agreements are related to the handling of people who come to the US seeking asylum, not criminals the US is seeking to deport. In 2016, just prior to Trump’s presidency, neither country was on the list of countries that Immigration and Customs Enforcement considered “recalcitrant” (uncooperative) in accepting the return of their citizens from the US.
You can read a longer fact check in this article.

Democrats and borders

Trump said on three occasions that Democrats support “open borders.”

Facts First: Even 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who have advocated the decriminalization of the act of illegally entering the country, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who has dropped out of the race, do not support completely unrestricted migration, as Trump suggests.

Democrats and the wall

“They were always for the wall and then I wanted it and they went against it.” — January 6 interview with Rush Limbaugh

Facts First: Democrats were not “always for the wall.” In 2013, many Democrats supported a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included 700 miles of border fencing. But that was fencing, not the giant wall Trump has proposed — and many Democrats supported it only as part of a package that included provisions they wanted, most notably a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

For example, Mary Landrieu, then a Democratic senator for Louisiana, voted for the final bill that included the fencing. But she said during the debate: “I’m not going to waste taxpayers’ money on a dumb fence…I’ve been in tunnels under the fence. I’ve watched people climb over the fence. I’m not going to send taxpayers’ money down a rat hole.”

China and trade

China’s economic performance

“Right now China’s had the worst year they’ve had in 67 years.” And: “Last year was the worst they had. In 67 — was 57, now it’s 67 years, and they wanted to make a deal and we made a deal, and it’s a great deal.” — January 10 interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham

Facts First: China’s second-quarter GDP growth of 6.2% and third-quarter GDP growth of 6% were its worst since 1992, 27 years ago. Trump has repeatedly made clear that he knows that 27 years is the reported figure, but he has added additional years for no apparent reason.

China’s agricultural spending

“But phase one was — is a phenomenal deal. Could be up to $50 billion in farm product. So that’s something that — the most they ever did was $16 billion. So they go from $16 billion to up to $50 billion. So that’s numerous times more than they were buying in the past.” — January 9 exchange with reporters after speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: China spent $25.9 billion on American agricultural products in 2012, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture.

Who is paying for Trump’s tariffs on China

“We are taking billions — remember what I said? We’re not paying for it because China devalued their currency, and they put a lot of money into the pot. We’re not paying for it.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: Study after study, including a report in late November from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has shown that Americans are bearing the cost of the tariffs. And it is Americans who make the actual tariff payments.

Popularity

Approval among Republicans

Trump claimed three times that he had a “95%” approval rating among Republicans. On two occasions, he said this was “a record”; on one of these two occasions, he said Ronald Reagan was in second place at “87%.”

Facts First: Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is very high, regularly in the 80s and sometimes creeping into the 90s, but it has not been 95% in any recent major poll we could find.

Trump was at 89% approval with Republicans in a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted January 7-12, 93% in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted January 8-12, 88% in an Ipsos/Reuters poll conducted January 6-7, 89% in a Gallup poll conducted December 2-15.

The Quinnipiac poll at which he was at 93% had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and a larger margin of error for the smaller sub-sample of Republican voters, so that poll found that it’s possible Trump’s true number is indeed 95% — but it’s not accurate to make leaps from the numbers the polls actually found without explaining that this is what you are doing.

Regardless, Trump’s approval rating is not a record, Reagan is not in second place, and Reagan’s peak was higher than 87%. Gallup’s website features data on approval rating by party for every president since Harry Truman; George W. Bush hit 99% in Gallup polling after the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. His father, George H.W. Bush, hit 97% at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Dwight Eisenhower all went higher than 90%.

Economy, energy, environment

Unemployment

Trump said twice that unemployment rate is the lowest in “in over 51 years.” On another occasion, he said, “We have the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had. So that’s very important.”

Facts First: The unemployment rates for some demographic groups are at their lowest levels “ever,” but the overall unemployment rate is not — though it is indeed impressively low.

The overall rate was 3.5% in December — the lowest since 1969, with the exception of the 3.5% rate in September, but well above the record 2.5% set in 1953.

The steel industry

Trump said that American steel companies are now making billions in investments, while before, “They weren’t investing 10 cents. The industry was dead. Now, it’s vibrant.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: While some steel plants were closing, being idled or otherwise doing poorly before Trump took office and before Trump imposed his tariffs on steel imports, and while some companies were struggling, it’s not true that the industry was “dead” or that not even “10 cents” of investment was occurring.

A simple Google search brings up numerous 2015 announcements about planned investments in steel plants. For example, Steel Dynamics announced a $100 million expansion at a mill in Mississippi. Commercial Metals announced a $250 million investment to build a micro-mill in Oklahoma. Nucor and a partner announced a $75 million investment in improvements at a mill in Arkansas. Ferrous CAL announced a $53 million investment in a Michigan plant to make steel for automotive companies.

Bloomberg reported in an October 2018 fact check: “In fact, U.S. steelmakers Nucor Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc. were two of the healthiest commodity companies in the world before Trump took office.” There is no doubt that the steel industry had declined from its heyday: the number of people working in iron and steel mills or in making steel products fell from more than 250,000 in 1990 to under 150,000 by 2016. Still, “dead” is a major exaggeration. In 2016, the US produced about as much raw steel as it did at various points in the 1980s.

The construction of the Empire State Building

Trump said it took “less than one year — can you believe that? — to build the Empire State Building.” — January 9 speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: The Empire State Building was built in 13 months. (We’d have let it go if Trump had said “one year,” but “less than one year” is wrong. He has made this claim repeatedly.)

Median household income and energy

Trump claimed twice that the average household has gained $10,000 in income during his presidency.

Facts First: It’s not true that household income gains under Trump have already hit $10,000 in less than three years. A firm called Sentier Research found pre-tax income gains of about $5,500 between January 2017 and October 2019.

You can read a longer fact check here.

“Clean coal”

“We ended the war on clean, beautiful coal.” And: “Clean coal. What they do with coal today is incredible, clean coal.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: Nothing about coal is “clean.”

“Clean coal” is an industry term for particular technologies that attempt to reduce the many environmental harms caused by coal, a particularly dirty source of power. The term is not meant to be used to broadly describe coal itself, though that is what Trump generally does.

Energy production

“We ended the last administration’s war on American energy…And with the help of energy workers right here in Ohio, the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world by far, number one. We weren’t number one.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: The US has not just “now” become the world’s top energy producer, and it’s not true that “we weren’t number one”: the US took the top spot in 2012, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration — under the very Obama administration Trump is accusing of perpetrating a “war” on the industry.

The US became the top producer of crude oil in particular during Trump’s tenure. “The United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas since 2009, when US natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and it has been the world’s top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when its production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s,” the Energy Information Administration says.

Air quality

“And our air and our water right now is cleaner than it’s been in 40 years, and sadly, I can’t say historic because, you know, a couple of hundred years ago there was nobody here, right?” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

“We have some of the cleanest air and cleanest water on Earth. And for our country, the air is, right now, cleaner than it’s been in 40 years…in the last 40 years, it’s the cleanest right now.” — January 9 speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations

Facts First: By several measures, US air was cleaner under Obama than it has been under Trump. Three of the six types of pollutants identified by the Clean Air Act as toxic to human health were more prevalent in the air as of 2018 than they were before Trump took office, according to Environmental Protection Agency data.

Additionally, there were more “unhealthy air days” for sensitive groups in 2018 than in 2016 — 799 days across the 35 American cities surveyed by the EPA, up from 702. Though there were significantly more “unhealthy air days” in Obama’s first term than there have been in Trump’s, the lowest amount of unhealthy air days — 598 — occurred in 2014 under Obama.

The Paris climate accord and China

“And took us out of that horrible Paris accord. I always say, how are you doing with the Paris accord? Don’t ask, saved trillions and trillions of dollars that was put in there to hurt us. In my opinion, it was put in there to hurt us. We were paying money to India, we were paying money to China, China’s didn’t kick in until 2030, we kicked in immediately.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: Trump wrongly described how the Paris accord works. The accord does give China more time than the US before it “kicks in”; it came into effect for all participating countries in November 2016. The accord simply allows each nation to set its own targets for reducing carbon emissions. China picked 2030 as the year by which it planned to meet its primary targets, while the US picked 2025.
One of China’s targets was to hit peak emissions “around 2030.” Another target was to get 20% of its energy from sources other than fossil fuels by 2030. That did not mean the accord somehow wouldn’t “kick in” for China until 2030; 2030 was its (self-selected, non-binding) deadline, not a start date. Since the accord came into effect, China has implemented significant new policies to curb its emissions. The Obama administration set a target of reducing US emissions by 26% – 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. That, similarly, did not mean that the accord would have only kicked in for the US in 2025. (Trump has begun the process of formally withdrawing the US from the accord.)

The Russia investigation

The cost of the Mueller investigation

“With one of the biggest investigations in history they found nothing, the Mueller report, they found absolutely — think of it. They spent $45 million.” — January 6 interview with Rush Limbaugh

Facts First: The Mueller investigation cost $32 million, according to figures released by the Justice Department, and the government is expected to recoup about $17 million as a result of the investigation, most from former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a CNN analysis of the sentences handed out to people charged by Mueller.

The Russia investigation a “coup”?

“It’s worse than a hoax. The first part of it was a coup. And this is just a continuation of it.” — January 6 interview with Rush Limbaugh

Facts First: There is no evidence that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia was an “attempted overthrow” of Trump.

Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Justice Department, found “basic and fundamental errors” in the FBI’s handling of applications for surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy aide Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Horowitz emphasized the seriousness of these mistakes in his December report and congressional testimony.

But Horowitz did not find evidence that the department or the FBI in particular were attempting some sort of coup — nor even that there had been “intentional misconduct.” Horowitz found that the FBI had a legitimate basis to open the investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia and that the decisions to investigate the campaign and individual campaign aides were not driven by political bias.

During Horowitz’s congressional testimony, Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked him, “Is there any evidence that you found that the FBI tried to overthrow the president?” Horowitz responded, “No, we found the issues we identified here. That’s what we found.” When Blumenthal said, “I didn’t find any conclusion that the FBI meddled or interfered in the election to affect the outcome,” Horowitz replied, “We did not reach that conclusion.”

Right to Try

“Right to Try. You know about Right to Try, right? They’ve been trying to get it for 44 years, Right to Try.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: There had not been a 44-year effort to get a federal Right to Try law, which aims to make it easier for terminally ill patients to access medications that have not been granted final approval. Trump signed the bill in 2018; similar laws have been passed at the state level only since 2014, after the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, began pushing for them.

“I have no idea what ‘they’ve been trying to get’ for 44 years,” Alison Bateman-House, assistant professor of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Health, said in response to a previous version of Trump’s claim. “The Right to Try law was a creation of the Goldwater Institute, and it first became state law in 2014 (in Colorado), relatively soon after it was first conceived of.”

Pre-existing conditions

“Republicans will defend middle-class taxpayers and the right to keep the doctor of your choice. We will protect patients with pre-existing conditions….” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio

Facts First: We usually don’t fact check promises, but this one has already proved untrue. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Trump is currently supporting a Republican lawsuit that is seeking to declare all of Obamacare void. He has not issued a plan to reinstate the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the suit succeeds.

Judicial vacancies

Trump mocked Obama for supposedly leaving him “142” judicial vacancies.

Facts First: Trump exaggerated. According to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments, there were 103 vacancies on district and appeals courts on January 1, 2017, just before Trump took office, plus a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

“Thank you very much, President Obama. We have a record. It’s a record and we will appoint many more, but we — first day I had 142 judges, 142. I said, ‘How many do we have?’ ‘Sir, you have 142.’ I said, ‘You got to be kidding.’ I thought he’d say,maybe none, maybe one, but certainly, no more than one. They’re like gold. They said, ‘No, sir, you have 142.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ How did this happen? President Obama, President Obama did not get that done. And by the way, Mitch (McConnell) helped a lot too.” — January 9 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio