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Fact-Checking Night 4 of the Republican National Convention





— Rudolph Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and Mr. Trump’s personal attorney

The Justice Department has indicted scores of people for rioting and related crimes, but the department’s latest compilation of criminal charges related to the nation’s ongoing protests does not include members of Black Lives Matter or Antifa, the loose coalition of self-described anti-fascist activists. While local authorities in some parts of the country have accused members of Antifa of committing crimes, the government has brought charges against men who are associated with Boogaloo, a loose coalition of radical right-wing, anti-government activists, some of whom believe that it’s their duty to take up arms to avoid a white genocide.

— Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas

Joseph R. Biden Jr. did make those remarks on China in May 2019. That prompted criticism at the time from Republicans and some Democrats, including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was one of Mr. Biden’s challengers in the Democratic primary this year. Mr. Biden’s aides say his comment was the kind of expression of confidence in the superiority of the United States that he has made throughout his political career.

And Mr. Biden has made more recent comments on China that show he sees it as a formidable challenge. He told The Washington Post this year that China is the greatest “medium-term” strategic challenge for the United States. In a Foreign Affairs essay this year, he wrote: “China represents a special challenge. I have spent many hours with its leaders, and I understand what we are up against.”

He added: “The United States does need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the United States and American companies of their technology and intellectual property.”

Also, there is no evidence the Chinese government purposefully “unleashed” the novel coronavirus on the world. Scientists say the virus almost certainly emerged naturally, making a leap from animals to humans. And U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed in an internal report that officials in the city of Wuhan — where the initial outbreak occurred — hid the severity of the virus from officials in the central government in Beijing.

— Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York

Cities have at times struggled to resolve the recent unrest that Mr. Giuliani was describing, but police have continued using aggressive tactics to contain them. In Portland, where protests have persisted, officers have arrested hundreds of people, chasing them through the streets, knocking them to the ground and firing tear gas. In Seattle, leaders did retreat from the department’s East Precinct in June as part of an effort to de-escalate tensions. The city largely kept officers out of the area and allowed demonstrators to control several blocks for much of the month, but the city brought that to an end after a series of shootings around the so-called autonomous zone. Officers have since clashed with protesters and made arrests at other demonstrations.

— Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas.

An American intelligence report released earlier this month concluded that China prefers that President Trump be defeated in November. But as our colleague Julian Barnes has reported, while China seeks to gain influence in American politics, its leaders have not yet decided to wade directly into the presidential contest, however much they may dislike Mr. Trump. The intelligence report also concluded that Russia, which was assessed to favor Mr. Trump’s election, is the far graver, and more immediate, threat.

— Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas

While the Islamic State has been pushed out of its so-called caliphate and its leader killed, the extremist group continues to carry out attacks in Iraq and Syria. And some of the territorial gains made by American troops and their allies took place in the Obama-Biden administration.

The research firm IHS Markit estimated that the Islamic State lost about a third of its territory from January 2015 to January 2017, while Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the group, has said 50 percent of those losses occurred before 2017. Officials and experts had always anticipated that the campaign, which started in 2014 during the Obama administration, would result in pushing the extremist group out of its self-declared caliphate.

Mr. Cotton rightly credits Mr. Trump for ordering the strike that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019. But he overstated a claim Mr. Trump himself has repeatedly made, including in a tweet last October. “When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area,” Mr. Trump said. “We quickly defeated 100 percent of the ISIS Caliphate.”

Mr. McGurk responded to the president on Twitter that “none of this is true.”

— Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development

It is impossible to look back through all of American history to examine the abortion views of each president; the issue did not come to the fore until the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the time leading up to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the case that found a constitutional right for a woman to terminate a pregnancy. But President Trump stands alone as the president who has made the most vocal and public commitment to oppose abortion.

Mr. Trump is the first and only president to address the “March for Life,” the annual demonstration that brings thousands of anti-abortion advocates to Washington each January on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. And Mr. Trump is the only president to have made an explicit written promise to the anti-abortion movement.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, agreed to back Mr. Trump, who in 1999 described himself as “very pro-choice.” In exchange, he provided a written promise that he would pursue an anti-abortion agenda — including “nominating pro-life justices” to the Supreme Court, and stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding if the group continues to provide abortions. Shortly after Mr. Trump’s election, Ms. Dannenfelser said, “This is the strongest the pro-life movement has been since 1973. We are dealing now with a president who has not been playing the game in the way that other presidents, including Republicans, have.”

— Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas

The Trump administration has budgeted more than $2 trillion to the defense budgets for the past three fiscal years: $671 billion in 2018, $685 billion in 2019 and $713 billion in 2020. And Mr. Trump did create a new branch of the military, the Space Force. But Mr. Cotton’s suggestion that military spending was declining before Mr. Trump took office and had seldom received such a large amount of money is wrong.

Adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon operated with larger budgets than under President Trump every year from the 2007 fiscal year to 2012 fiscal year, peaking at $848 billion in 2008. Under Mr. Trump, the amount appropriated for procurement — buying and upgrading equipment — averaged $132 billion over the past three fiscal years. That is lower than the annual averages of $134 billion under President Barack Obama and $140 billion under President George W. Bush.

The Trump administration has invested in operational readiness, but there are signs that the military continues to face substantial challenges in addressing an array of threats from around the world. For example, the military earned a middling grade of “marginal” last year in the conservative Heritage Foundation’s annual index of military strength, based on factors like shortages in personnel and aging equipment. The think tank noted that American forces are probably capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict but “would be very hard-pressed to do more and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies.”

— Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas


Mr. Cotton is repeating a charge that Vice President Mike Pence made last night, regarding the 2014 book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” by the former Pentagon chief and C.I.A. director Robert M. Gates.

In his memoir, Mr. Gates offered a scathing assessment of how the Obama administration handled the war in Afghanistan. Of Mr. Biden in particular, Mr. Gates said, “I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” But Mr. Cotton did not mention what Mr. Gates had written immediately before his criticism of Mr. Biden. “He’s a man of integrity, incapable of hiding what he really thinks, and one of those rare people you know you could turn to for help in a personal crisis,” Mr. Gates wrote of the then-vice president.

— Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has offered shifting accounts of how he counseled then President Barack Obama. It is clear that he was more skeptical than most other Obama officials about the May 2011 operation that killed the Osama bin Laden. But saying that he opposed the raid outright, as Vice President Mike Pence also did last night, is at best a selective interpretation of the available evidence.

In the months after Mr. Obama ordered the risky mission, Mr. Biden said he had been skeptical of the unconfirmed intelligence showing that bin Laden was hiding in a compound in Pakistan. In January 2012, he recalled having told Mr. Obama in a final Situation Room meeting when top officials were polled on their positions: “Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go.” But he implied that his view was subject to change, saying that more work should be done “to see if he’s there.”

A few months later, he added more detail to his account, saying that he spoke privately with Mr. Obama after that Situation Room meeting and told him, “Follow your instincts, Mr. President.” At the time, Mr. Biden recounted, “I knew he was going to go,” thus indicating that he was implicitly endorsing Mr. Obama’s decision to act.

In 2015, Mr. Biden offered a new account of his private exchange with Mr. Obama after the meeting. “I told him my opinion, that I thought he should go, but follow his own instincts,” Mr. Biden said. “Imagine if I had said in front of everyone, ‘Don’t go,’ or ‘Go,’ and his decision was a different decision. It undercuts that relationship.” That analysis conflicts with his first account of telling Mr. Obama to delay the operation.

Subsequent books by former Obama officials describe Mr. Biden as skeptical of the intelligence and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recounted that “Biden’s primary concern was the political consequences of failure.” Mr. Biden’s own 2017 memoir does not mention the bin Laden raid, and Mr. Obama has not commented on the matter.

— Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association

According to the latest crime data available for New York City, 1,095 people had been shot in 2020 as of Aug. 16. In that same period, 259 people had been killed.

— Debbie Flood, Melron Corporation president

In fact, when Mr. Biden was vice president, the economy saw a period of robust job creation following the Great Recession. Job growth in 2015 and 2016 — the final two years of the Obama administration — was actually slightly faster than in the first two years of the Trump administration. That probably wasn’t because of Mr. Biden’s policies in particular, but simply because the business cycle was on an upswing. Still, it leans against the implication that he was somehow ineffective at overseeing the labor market.

— Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship

President Trump has failed to live up to a number of key campaign pledges. There has been no large-scale rebuilding of America’s infrastructure, no manufacturing renaissance, no elimination of the federal debt, no deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants and no prosecution of Hillary Clinton. On other promises, Mr. Trump can at best claim partial success. Though the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate has been repealed, he has not repealed and replaced the health care law. Though additional border barriers have been built, there is no 2,000 mile long wall nor is Mexico footing the bill.

PolitiFact, which has tracked 100 of his campaign promises, found that he has broken about half of them while keeping a quarter and compromising on another quarter.

— Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development.

One could quibble about the word “crusade” to describe a business decision, but Mr. Carson’s statement is largely true. When Mr. Trump opened Mar-a-Lago as a private club in 1995, he made it open to anyone who could afford its fees, unlike other clubs in the area. Mar-a-Lago was the first club to accept Black people and openly gay couples and began the slow process of putting social pressure on other clubs in town to diversify, according to The Washington Post.

— Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader

The House earlier this year approved statehood for the 700,000 people who live in the nation’s capital, the first time a chamber of Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as a state. At the time, District Mayor Muriel Bowser said that it would lay the groundwork for the legislation to be approved in 2021, if Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president and Democrats took the Senate.

But the legislation would set aside the National Mall, the White House, Capitol Hill and some other federal property — where the so-called swamp resides — to remain under congressional jurisdiction. The rest of the land would become the new state, allowing Ms. Bowser and the Washington government to take full control of the places where Washingtonians actually live. The legislation gained traction earlier this year because the administration flooded the streets with National Guard forces and federal agents in riot gear during protests over the death of George Floyd over the objections of Ms. Bowser, who had few options because of how much control Congress maintains over the district’s finances and laws.

— Debbie Flood, Wisconsin machine shop owner

Joseph R. Biden Jr. did vote to normalize trade with China in 2000, as did many lawmakers in both parties — the bill passed the Senate with a vote of 83 to 15. However, at that point, China was still a less developed country that did not appear to pose much of an economic threat to the United States.

Mr. Biden noted as much in his speech on the Senate floor before the 2000 vote, saying he did not foresee “the collapse of the American manufacturing economy, as China, a nation with the impact on the world economy about the size of the Netherlands’, suddenly becomes our major economic competitor.”

— Dan Scavino, White House deputy chief of staff and President Trump’s director of social media

To the extent that claims about the “best” economy are provable — and that extent is limited — the 2017 to 2020 economy does not meet the mark. Unemployment was at a more than 50-year low before the pandemic, but it has been lower. Participation rates, the share of people who are working or looking, have been much higher. Inequality is elevated. Growth remained near its recent 2 percent trend — historically, relatively tepid — before plunging headlong into the sharpest recession since the Great Depression at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

— Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California

The phrase “energy independence” suggests that the United States does not depend on energy imports, but the United States still relies significantly on imports of oil and natural gas. In 2019, nearly half the oil consumed by the United States was imported — about 9 million barrels per day were imported of the roughly 20 million barrels per day that were consumed.


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