Trump’s Super Tuesday Speech: Assessing 10 False and Misleading Claims


Former President Donald J. Trump moved another step closer to becoming the 2024 Republican nominee for president Tuesday, sweeping up delegates and prompting his last remaining rival, Nikki Haley, to suspend her campaign. The results all but guarantee a November rematch against President Biden.

But in his 20-minute victory remarks, which offered a grim view of the United States under his successor, Mr. Trump resorted to a string of false and misleading claims — on immigration, economics, energy and more — some of which were variations on familiar assertions.

Here’s a fact check.

WHAT WAS SAID

“They flew 325,000 migrants — flew ’em in, over the borders, into our country. So that really tells you where they’re coming from, they want open borders.”

This is misleading. Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to reports about documents obtained by a group that pushes for restricting immigration. The group reported that the documents showed some 320,000 migrants were flown into the United States in 2023 by receiving authorization by using a mobile app started by Customs and Border Protection.

But this is not a secretive effort, contrary to Mr. Trump’s characterization, and the migrants came through programs that authorize their arrival and require them to arrange for their travel on commercial flights.

The app in question, CBP One, was introduced last year to require migrants to secure an appointment at a port of entry in order to submit an asylum application. However, the app is also used to support the processing of migrants seeking to enter the United States through other programs, said Michelle Mittelstadt, a spokeswoman for the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

One program is an initiative in which a certain number of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela can apply for “humanitarian parole,” if they have a sponsor within the United States. Another is family reunification parole, for nationals from several countries who have an approved family-based petition.

Information on the programs is publicly available and the migrants are vetted before being allowed to enter the country.

WHAT WAS SAID

“We built 571 miles of wall.”

False. The Trump administration constructed 458 miles of border barriers — most of which reinforced or replaced existing structures. Officials put up new primary barriers along only 47 miles where no barriers previously existed.

The southern border with Mexico runs more than 1,900 miles. During Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign he promised to build a wall spanning the border and have Mexico pay for it — which did not happen.

WHAT WAS SAID

“Our cities are being overrun with migrant crime, and that’s Biden migrant crime. But it’s a new category of crime and it’s violent.”

This lacks evidence. While there are undoubtedly examples of unauthorized immigrants in the country committing crimes, the available data doesn’t support the notion that migrants are causing an increase in crime levels.

In New York City, the overall crime rate has remained flat despite the arrival of more than 170,000 migrants since April 2022, a recent Times analysis found, and some major categories of crimes have decreased.

Federal data also shows that violent crime declined in 2022. And a January report by the nonprofit Council on Criminal Justice found that various cities saw a decline in 2023 from the year before in homicides and other violent crimes.

Moreover, multiple analyses conducted in recent years do not show that immigrants, even those here illegally, are statistically tied to increases in crimes.

WHAT WAS SAID

“We had no inflation.”

This is exaggerated. While the rate of inflation was indeed low under Mr. Trump, it wasn’t completely nonexistent, as Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.

Under Mr. Trump, the rate of inflation measured by the overall Consumer Price Index largely gravitated around 2 percent — with the rate slightly lower and higher some months. That dropped at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and inflation reached a low of 0.1 percent in May 2020, before trending upward.

Inflation reached a peak of 9.1 percent in June 2022; it has since dropped and stood at 3.1 percent in January. Among the drivers of inflation were a rise in consumer spending as the country recovered from the pandemic — with the help of government stimulus payments — and supply shortages.

WHAT WAS SAID

“We took in much more revenues after we cut taxes.”

False. The 2017 corporate tax cuts signed into law by Mr. Trump have not increased government revenue, despite some efforts to suggest as much. In fact, they have had the opposite effect.

A recent, rigorous study of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act shows the policy is adding more than $100 billion a year to the national debt. The study shows that while the tax cuts have bolstered investment in the economy, they have provided only a modest — albeit, less than predicted — pay bump for workers, as The Times has reported.

“There is no evidence that the tax cuts have paid for themselves or even close,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

WHAT WAS SAID

“We got the largest tax cuts in history.”

False. Mr. Trump has used this refrain since his first year in the White House — and in his final speech as president. The fact is, the 2017 tax cuts ranked below several others, including the 1981 Reagan tax cut, which was the largest as a percentage of the economy.

WHAT WAS SAID

“Three years ago, we were at a level — we were energy independent, we were going to be very shortly energy dominant and today we’re getting oil from Venezuela.”

This is misleading. The United States became a net exporter of petroleum in 2020, the first time in at least seven decades, and that remained the case in 2022 under Mr. Biden. The country also remains a net exporter of natural gas.

Under Mr. Biden, energy production — including oil and gas — has boomed, despite Mr. Trump’s descriptions.

Still, the country does continue to import millions of barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products a day — as it did under Mr. Trump — which the term “energy independence” does not convey.

WHAT WAS SAID

Covid “started in the Wuhan labs, just as I said.”

This needs context. The origin of the coronavirus remains a subject of fierce scientific and political debate, though it is the case that some federal agencies believe the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Other experts and agencies have concluded that the virus most likely emerged through natural transmission.

WHAT WAS SAID

“For 18 months, we lost nobody in Afghanistan.”

This is misleading. Mr. Trump did not alone oversee an 18-month stretch with no casualties in Afghanistan. Instead, the time period in question refers specifically to combat casualties and occurred under both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.

In early February 2020, under Mr. Trump, there were two combat deaths recorded — and none reported again until late August 2021, when an attack killed 13 U.S. troops amid Mr. Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, there were 45 combat deaths among U.S. service members reported in Afghanistan, as well as 18 “nonhostile” deaths, according to the Defense Casualty Analysis System.

WHAT WAS SAID

“We left $85 billion worth of brand-new, beautiful equipment behind” in Afghanistan.

False. As Mr. Trump is again referring to the total amount that the spent on security in Afghanistan over the course of 20 years — not the value of equipment left behind when the United States withdrew in 2021.

The United States provided $88.6 billion for security in Afghanistan from October 2001 to July 2021, and disbursed about $75 billion, according to Pentagon figures. That figure includes the amount spent on training, antidrug trafficking efforts and infrastructure, as well as $18 billion for equipment.

CNN has previously reported that about $7 billion worth of military equipment that the United States transferred to the Afghan government was left behind during the withdrawal, citing a Defense Department report submitted to Congress.

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email factcheck@nytimes.com.



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