‘The wall will soon be complete’: Six lies from Trump’s RNC speech

The number of misleading and untrue statements in president's 70-minute speech was high even by his standards

Andrew Naughtie
Friday 28 August 2020 11:53 BST
Donald Trump filled his convention speech with false and misleading claims
Donald Trump filled his convention speech with false and misleading claims (EPA)

Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican nomination on Thursday contained a multitude of falsehoods – some merely misleading, and others fully untrue.

To help keep the audience alert to what Mr Trump was doing, CNN went so far as to add a “facts first” layer to their chyron; the network’s fact-checker, Daniel Dale, called the president “a serial liar” who spouted at least “20 false or misleading claims”.

As fact-checkers everywhere pore over the speech to detail the many incidents where Mr Trump misled his audience, here are six of the most egregious examples.

“The United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country anywhere in the world”

This is highly misleading. The US’s case fatality rate currently stands at 3.1 per cent, according to Johns Hopkins University; while that puts it well behind Mexico and marginally behind Brazil, it is nearly double the rate in Russia, India and the Philippines.

What Mr Trump did not mention, meanwhile, is that the US is one of the worst-affected countries in terms of deaths per 100,000 people. At 54.93, it currently ranks fourth in the world, behind Peru, Chile and Brazil.

“Over the past three months, we have gained over 9 million jobs, and that’s a record in the history of our country”

While Mr Trump did accurately state the figure of jobs added by US employers in the last three months, his framing is highly misleading. These jobs represent a recovery against a total loss of 22 million, meaning the economy is still down by 13 million thanks to the knock-on effects of the pandemic.

Economists are also warning that the US’s labour market recovery is slowing down, a worrying sign that the next quarter will move at a snail’s pace – assuming there is no need to reimpose harsh lockdowns because of another surge in infections.

That could scotch what progress has been made in repairing an economy that’s shrunk faster than at any time since the Great Depression.

“We will always, and very strongly, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and that is a pledge from the entire Republican Party”

The Trump administration and the Republican Party at large have for nearly 10 years been trying to abolish or dismember the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, one of the key provisions if which is that health insurance companies cannot refuse to cover anyone because of a pre-existing condition.

While this is not the GOP’s principal stated reason for abolishing Obamacare, it would be one of the most tangible consequences of scrapping the act.

And so far, despite their promises, Mr Trump and his allies have yet to come up with a concrete proposal that would protect people whose conditions previously made it very hard or impossible to obtain insurance.

“We also passed VA accountability and VA Choice, our great veterans. We are taking care of our veterans.”

Mr Trump has repeated this untruth many times in recent years. The Veterans Choice programme, which lets veterans choose doctors outside of the Veterans Administration (VA) while having their medical bills covered by public money, was created under Barack Obama.

It is true that Mr Trump expanded eligibility for the programme, reducing the time veterans have to wait for a VA appointment or the distance they must have to travel before they can go to a private doctor. But his claim to be the first president to pass it into law is a lie.

“The Biden-Bernie Manifesto calls for suspending ALL removals of illegal aliens.”

While one of the “unity task forces” created by Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden has recommend freezing deportations for 100 days, this is not part of any stated plan to end the expulsion of undocumented immigrants. Instead, it is a moratorium intended to buy time for reform at immigration control agencies.

Joe Biden, meanwhile, did not mention the border or illegal immigration in his convention speech, merely saying he wanted the US to have “an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values”.

“The wall will soon be complete, and it is working beyond our wildest expectations.”

This is not true. The wall on the US-Mexican border is nowhere near complete, with only around 300 miles constructed on a border stretching 2,000 miles. And the sections that have been constructed are mostly reinforcements or replacements of existing fences.

The saga of Mr Trump’s dream of a fortified border dates back to his first campaign, where chants of “build the wall!” were a consistent feature of his rallies, along with the call-and-response chant “who’s gonna pay for it it?” “Mexico!”

So far, there is no sign of Mexico funding the wall; instead, Mr Trump is paying for construction with appropriated taxpayer money and redirected military funds.

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