At rallies across the country this week, President Donald Trump uttered multiple blatantly false statements meant to stoke his base.
Amid bipartisan outrage over his family separation policy, Trump has maintained his tough-guy, anti-immigration stance by telling his supporters at rallies that he is on their side and is eliminating crime. But he’s really championing fake progress and fighting against a version of Big Government that doesn’t exist.
At a June 23 rally in Nevada, Trump falsely claimed that construction on his border wall has already begun in San Diego. The work there is actually border fence replacements, not construction of 30-foot concrete walls of the sort Trump proposed during his campaign. Congress authorized the fence repairs with a $1.6 billion omnibus bill, which Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) explicitly said in March did not fund a “border security wall.”
The president’s remarks at a South Carolina rally on Monday were even more egregious. Trump said he’d rejected a request to add 5,000 judges to the border after “they” came into his office. But it’s not clear who “they” are, and there have been no public reports of any meeting like this.
“They came to me three days ago and they said, ‘Sir, we’d like you to sign this order,’” Trump told his audience. “What is the order? ‘We need 5,000 judges on the border.’ I said, ‘Judges? What other country has judges?’ I said, ‘How many do we have now?’ They didn’t even know. So we have thousands of judges and now we’re going to have 5,000.”
In fact, there are about 334 immigration judges currently serving, not “thousands” as Trump claims. Additionally, only another 365 judges would be needed to eliminate the backlog of cases, according to Dana Leigh Marks, president emeritus of the National Association of Immigration Judges.
Trump presumably offered the anecdote as a way of suggesting that the government’s adherence to fundamental constitutional rights like due process requires unnecessary resources. But it only gave the impression that he has no clue about the immigration judicial system.
On Monday, he also reiterated the false claim that “the Democrats want open borders. They want anybody they wanted, including MS-13, pouring into the country.” Though Democrats have opposed building a wall, citing inefficiency and the need for more cost-effective measures, they have supported legislation that would increase border security in other ways.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dismissed the idea that Democrats want open borders. “No, we do care about the border,” she said at a hearing last week. “We care about protecting our country.”
At a rally in North Dakota on Wednesday, Trump accused Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) of inciting physical attacks on White House officials, which was a lie.
“I mean, [Waters] practically was telling people the other day to assault,” Trump said. “Can you imagine if I said the things she said?”
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up,” Waters said in her initial call to action. “And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Though Trump said he has never threatened violence against people with whom he disagrees, his Twitter history says otherwise.
Last year, the president retweeted a video of himself beating up a man whose face was a CNN logo.
He has said that a Black Lives Matter protester at a 2015 rally should have been “roughed up,” and urged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of other protesters at his rallies. He even offered to pay for people’s legal fees if they got into trouble for violent acts against protesters.
The president also railed against Canada’s trade policies on Wednesday, only to say immediately after that he didn’t know what Canada’s trade policies actually are.
“John and Kevin gave me something, they told me this,” he said as he began to read from a card, likely referring to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).
“Canadian wheat markets consistently discriminate against the United States’ wheat by grading it as feed,” Trump read. He added: “Do you know what that means? They know what it means. I don’t know what the hell it means. I just know it’s a bad deal. What the hell does that mean?”
Trump failed to tell the truth even when it came to simple historical facts. “When we won the state of Wisconsin, it hadn’t been won by a Republican since Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Trump said at an event in Wisconsin on Thursday. In reality, two other Republicans — Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan — both won Wisconsin after Eisenhower.
Although Trump frequently lies, his proclamations were met with loud applause at the rallies.
The president’s untruths this week weren’t limited to those events.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that public sector employees represented by unions cannot be required to pay union dues.
Trump’s tweet in celebration mixed up what the justices had actually decided, though. By law, public sector employees already didn’t have to pay for their unions’ political activity; the new ruling means employees can’t be required to pay for bargaining or representation, either.
Trump also tweeted that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said his claim that there was surveillance on Trump Tower was “probably correct” ― possibly a reference to remarks Mukasey made in March. However, despite what Trump and Mukasey have said, the Justice Department has found zero evidence of wiretaps at Trump Tower before the 2016 election.
In his attacks against late-night talk show hosts this week, Trump claimed that “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon had called him and said Trump had boosted the show’s ratings. Trump made this claim after Fallon apologized in an interview for “normalizing” Trump in a 2016 segment in which Fallon ruffled then-candidate Trump’s hair.
Fallon responded to Trump’s claim this week by saying: “I’ve never called this human in my life. I don’t have his number, I don’t want his number. By the way, Donald, I don’t know if you’ve seen my ratings the past two years, but you didn’t help.”