Donald Trump speech: The 9 biggest lies from the Republican nominee's RNC address

The Republican candidate’s prepared speech was loaded with stats. But do they all stack up?

Harry Cockburn
Friday 22 July 2016 15:28
Trump speech concludes Republican Convention

In a zealous Republican Party nomination acceptance speech, Donald Trump mentioned terrorism, the US economy and domestic crime, firing off statistics and warnings that painted a disturbing portrait of a troubled America.

Describing himself as the “law and order candidate”, Mr Trump said “safety will be restored” once he becomes president.

Mr Trump’s rallying call of “America first”, along with his hard-line rhetoric on crime, immigration and economy put his speech well within the canon of solid Republican themes, prompting comparisons to Richard Nixon.

At the beginning of the speech, Mr Trump called for “a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation,” and said he would “present the facts plainly and honestly.”

Departing from his largely improvised rally performances, Mr Trump then delivered a prepared speech littered with figures, data and other punchy nuggets backing up his aims and claims.

But according to US website ThinkProgress, Mr Trump’s acceptance speech was “riddled with falsehoods and contained a “blizzard of cherry picked statistics”.

The website has put together a list of nine quotes from the Republican nominee's address it calls “lies”, which informed the structure of Mr Trump’s address.

We take another look at Mr Trump’s troublesome quotes.

“America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world”

Mr Trump is fond of describing the US as the most taxed country in the world, having used the line in numerous rallies and addresses.

According to fact-checking website Politifact, taxation in America accounted for 26 per cent of GDP in 2014, which places the US at 27 out of 30 industrialised countries. The top five highest-taxed countries as a percentage of GDP were Denmark, France, Belgium, Finland and Italy, all topping 43 per cent.

However, the US does have one of the world’s highest corporate tax rates, though Trump didn’t specifically mention this in his claim.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement”

Is America descending into chaos? Against a backdrop of police shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement, Mr Trump’s claims capitalise on many people’s fears that disorder is on the rise.

However, that is not the case.

US homicide statistics published by the FBI show a steady and significant rate of decline from 1995 through to 2014, the last year for which data is available.

“In 2009, pre-Hillary, Isis was not even on the map.”

While true that prior to Hilary Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State in 2009, Isis did not exist, the clear implication is that she is responsible for the group’s creation.

This is backed up by an interview with Donald Trump on 17 July in which he said: “Hillary Clinton invented Isis with her stupid policies.”

While it is fairly wild to lay the blame for Isis’ formation solely at Ms Clinton’s feet, it also fails to recognise how the group did come into existence.

The group has roots that go as far back more than a decade, including links to al-Qaeda. By 2006, a group was formed caled Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). That group was eventually weakened but following Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becoming leader in 2010 and outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the group established a large presence - eventually becoming known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

However, during Ms Clinton’s tenure, declassified US intelligence reports from 2012 have shown that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the Syrian opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria, despite the risk of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaeda-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, the Guardian reported last year.

What this meant is that the US and other partners, including the UK, were arming and aiding opposition groups in Syria that were known to have extreme militant Islamist links. The extent to which this may have helped Isis is difficult to ascertain, but it did not create the group.

Politifact said the idea Ms Clinton was responsible for Isis is “false”.

Trump speech concludes Republican Convention

“I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders.”

It is unclear precisely what Mr Trump refers to here, as he could mean the US party candidate nomination system, or socio-political structures at large.

However, the official system was the same for both candidates for the democratic nomination. Ms Clinton won 55 per cent of about 30 million votes cast compared with Sanders’ 43 per cent of the vote.

This meant Ms Clinton racked up a total of 2,764 delegates in contrast to 1,894 for Mr Sanders.

Could this be Mr Trump’s attempt to pick up disgruntled former supporters of Mr Sanders’ campaign?

“Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.”

The 180,000 figure comes from a 2015 Department for Homeland Security letter to a senator who requested information on illegal immigrants in the US with criminal records.

Mr Trump is correct on this count.

However, ThinkProgress points out that most of the criminal offences documented against illegal immigrants are petty misdemeanours including traffic offenses or simply “illegal entry”.

The site also points out that deportations of such criminal immigrants have risen drastically under Barack Obama’s administration.

“My opponent wants to essentially abolish the second amendment.”

The US constitution’s second amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Is Ms Clinton trying to take guns away from Americans?

No. It would appear Mr Trump is responding to a statement from his opponent’s website in which it says she believes “weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

In an interview with ABC in June, she said she wanted to implement “common-sense gun-safety measures consistent with the second amendment.”

“There’s no way to screen [Syrian] refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from.”

According to the US government, this is not true. A lengthy and complex screening and application process for resettlement is required for refugees coming to America.

Biographic information is required, health screenings and interviews are carried out, and refugees undergo a brief US cultural orientation course prior to their arrival in the country, according to the US Department of State website.

“Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons.”

Doubts plague the efficacy of Iran’s nuclear deal, in which the US and a number of other nations, including the UK, agreed to lift sanctions on the country in exchange for reduced nuclear activity in the country.

According to Reuters, Iran subsequently reduced its stockpile of Uranium by 98 per cent, reduced its number of centrifuges by two-thirds and filled its reactor with concrete.

Though the agreement will expire in 10 to 15 years, the Obama administration has said the deal will ensure long-term scrutiny over Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

“Household incomes are down more than $4,000 since the year 2000.”

This one is pretty badly out of date. According to ThinkProgress, Mr Trump’s statistic was true in 2014.

Statistics from the US’s Current Population Survey (CPS) show median annual household income in June 2016 was $57,206.

This is slightly below the median annual income for January 2000, which (when adjusted for inflation) stood at $57,826.

This means Mr Trump’s figure is off by $3,400.

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