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AP FACT CHECK: Trump claims innocence in probe; wall myths

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On this Jan. 2, 2019, photograph, appearing Secretary of the Inside David Bernhardt, left, and appearing Secretary of Protection Patrick Shanahan, proper, pay attention as President Donald Trump speaks throughout a cupboard assembly on the White Home in Washington. (AP Photograph/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Feeling the strain of investigations and a partial authorities shutdown, President Donald Trump is enjoying unfastened with the details relating to hush funds made by his former lawyer Michael Cohen to 2 ladies and is altering his story on his promise to construct a concrete border wall paid for by Mexico.

In feedback over the weekend, Trump stated he didn’t commit any marketing campaign violation and suggests something improper can be minor in contrast with infractions of Democrats corresponding to former President Barack Obama. The truth is just not so minimize and dried. Federal prosecutors in New York have implicated Trump in a criminal offense, linking him to the hush-money scheme. The Obama marketing campaign’s infractions have been civil, not felony.

On the border wall, Trump insists he by no means promised a concrete barrier — although he did — and asserts that a lot of it has been constructed. It hasn’t.

The doubtful statements capped an expansive week of assertions by the president. On prime of the standard Twitter circulate, Trump opened a Cupboard assembly with 90 minutes of opining to the press, concerning immigration, drug costs, the Soviet historical past in Afghanistan, his approval scores, Syria, oil costs, the attractiveness of his generals (“better looking than Tom Cruise”), and rather more. A number of days later he spoke for an hour at a Rose Backyard information convention.

A sampling of his claims:

TRUMP INVESTIGATIONS

TRUMP: “Many people currently a part of my opposition, including President Obama & the Dems, have had campaign violations, in some cases for very large sums of money. These are civil cases. They paid a fine & settled. While no big deal, I did not commit a campaign violation!” — tweet Saturday.

THE FACTS: Trump has been tied to — however not charged with — a criminal offense. At challenge isn’t a routine marketing campaign violation.

Prosecutors’ courtroom filings final month stated Trump directed Cohen to make funds to purchase the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy mannequin Karen McDougal through the 2016 presidential marketing campaign. Each ladies alleged that they had extramarital affairs with Trump, which the White Home denies.

Cohen, who pleaded responsible in August to marketing campaign finance crimes in reference to these funds, had beforehand implicated Trump. Now the Justice Division is backing up Cohen’s claims.

Particularly, the Justice Division says the hush cash funds have been unreported marketing campaign contributions meant to affect the result of the election. That assertion makes the funds topic to marketing campaign finance legal guidelines, which prohibit how a lot individuals can donate to a marketing campaign and bar firms from making direct contributions.

It’s unclear whether or not Trump will truly be charged with criminality, as a result of Justice Division authorized memos from 1973 and 2000 have steered that a sitting president is immune from indictment. Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., advised NBC this previous week that Trump isn’t essentially immune, calling an indictment of a sitting president “an open discussion in terms of the law.”

There’s an enormous distinction between Obama’s marketing campaign violation and Cohen’s case.

A Federal Election Fee audit discovered that the 2008 Obama marketing campaign did not file 48-hour contribution studies in a well timed method for greater than 1,200 donations totaling $1.9 million. The fee additionally discovered the marketing campaign was late refunding some contributions that exceeded authorized limits, and found another reporting errors relating to contribution dates.

The fee fined the Obama marketing campaign $375,000 for the violations. The marketing campaign was not discovered to have willfully violated the regulation, making it a civil infraction.

In Cohen’s case, he admitted he knew he was breaking the regulation by making the funds. Cohen informed ABC final month that “of course” Trump knew it was incorrect to make the hush-money funds, although he didn’t present any particular proof in the interview. In contrast to the Obama case, the place the difficulty was well timed reporting, the hush cash funds have been by no means disclosed in any respect on Trump’s marketing campaign filings.

Andrew Herman, a lawyer specializing in marketing campaign finance at regulation agency Miller & Chevalier, stated the 2 instances are “completely different species.”

“One is a paperwork error,” he stated. “And the other is a conscious attempt to obscure payments made to affect an election.”

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THE WALL

TRUMP: “As far as concrete, I said I was going to build a wall. I never said, ‘I’m going to build a concrete.’ I said I’m going to build a wall.” — Rose Backyard information convention Friday.

THE FACTS: Truly, he did say he would construct a concrete wall. Trump even repeated that promise final week, rejecting the declare of his departing White Home chief of employees John Kelly that Trump had deserted the notion of “a solid concrete wall early on in the administration.”

“An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 31. “Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through.”

Through the 2016 marketing campaign, Trump pledged to construct a “big, beautiful wall” made from concrete, rebar and metal throughout the size of the southern border with Mexico. Again then, he lashed out on the suggestion that what he was proposing had something in widespread with mere fencing.

“Jeb Bush just talked about my border proposal to build a ‘fence,’ he tweeted in 2015. “It’s not a fence, Jeb, it’s a WALL, and there’s a BIG difference!”

He now typically refers back to the wall as “steel slats.”

“Steel is stronger than concrete,” he stated Friday. “If I build a steel wall rather than a concrete wall, it will actually be stronger than a concrete” wall.

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TRUMP: “When they say ‘build the wall,’ I don’t say that any more. I say ‘finish the wall.’” — remarks to reporters Sunday.

TRUMP: “We’ve already built a lot of the wall.” — Rose Backyard information convention Friday.

THE FACTS: He hasn’t constructed a lot of the wall in any respect.

Trump’s declare is simply supported when counting work finished underneath previous presidents and ignoring the truth that fences from prior administrations will not be the towering partitions he promised. The 2006 Safe Fence Act has resulted in about 650 miles (1,050 kilometers) of border barrier. Cash authorised by Congress in March 2018 is to pay for 84 miles (135 km), however that work is just not carried out. Trump has achieved some renovation of present barrier.

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TRUMP: “The drugs are pouring into this country. They don’t go through the ports of entry. When they do, they sometimes get caught.” — Rose Backyard information convention.

THE FACTS: He’s mistaken in saying drug smugglers don’t or solely not often use official border crossings for his or her trafficking. Land ports of entry are their main means for getting medicine into the nation, not stretches of the border with out obstacles, says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The company stated in a November report that the most typical trafficking method by transnational felony organizations is to cover medicine in passenger automobiles or tractor-trailers as they drive into the U.S. although entry ports, the place they’re stopped and topic to inspection. Additionally they make use of buses, cargo trains and tunnels, the report says, citing smuggling strategies that might not be choked off by a border wall.

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TRUMP: “The new trade deal we have with Mexico and Canada — what we save on that, just with Mexico, will pay for the wall many times over, just in a period of a year, two years or three years. So I view that as absolutely Mexico is paying for the wall.” — Rose Backyard information convention.

THE FACTS: Mexico isn’t paying for the wall and nothing in the commerce settlement would cowl or refund the development value.

Trump is assuming all kinds of financial advantages will come from the settlement, however they will’t be quantified or counted on. For instance, he stated the deal will dissuade some U.S. corporations from shifting operations to Mexico and he credit that risk as a cost by Mexico for his wall.

The deal updates the North American Free Commerce Settlement, in the primary preserving NAFTA’s liberalized setting of low or no tariffs among the many U.S., Mexico and Canada, whereas making sure enhancements for every nation. Trump said inaccurately that it’s “brand new. It’s totally different.”

Furthermore, it’s not in impact. The deal has but to be ratified in any member nation and its probabilities of profitable legislative approval aren’t assured.

Trump has argued repeatedly that Mexico is footing the invoice even whereas insisting on $5.6 billion from the U.S. treasury to go towards wall development. His demand and the refusal of Democrats to fulfill it are behind the price range standoff that has closed elements of the federal government.

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SYRIA

TRUMP: “We are pulling back in Syria. We’re going to be removing our troops. I never said we’re doing it that quickly.” — remarks to reporters Sunday.

TRUMP: “We’re bringing the troops back home over a period of time. I never said so quickly, but over a period of time.” — Cupboard assembly Wednesday.

THE FACTS: He’s incorrect about his previous statements relating to the tempo of withdrawal. In a video posted to his Twitter account on Dec. 19, as an example, Trump stated of the roughly 2,000 troops in Syria: “They’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now.”

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TRUMP: “I read, when we pull out, ‘Oh, Russia is thrilled.’ Russia is not happy. You know why they’re not happy? Because they like it when we’re killing ISIS, because we’re killing them for them, and we’re killing them for Assad, and we’re killing ISIS also for Iran.” — Cupboard assembly.

THE FACTS: Russia says it’s joyful. A U.S. withdrawal opens alternatives for Moscow and Tehran to extend their affect and should assist the Syrian authorities survive as a Kurdish-led opposition drive loses its army ally on the bottom.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the U.S. “has done the right thing” in planning to tug out.

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AFGHANISTAN

TRUMP: “The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They (the Soviets) were right to be there.” — Cupboard assembly.

THE FACTS: His assertion that the Soviet Union was experiencing a terrorist inflow from Afghanistan when it invaded in 1979 is out of step with historical past. And his perception that the Soviets have been proper to invade is a stark departure from U.S. and world opinion.

The Soviets have been making an attempt to bolster communists in Afghanistan and probably broaden their affect towards america and the West.

World condemnation was swift: The U.N. Common Meeting voted 104-18 to deplore the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The U.S. supported the anti-communist rebels, giving them shoulder-fired rockets to down Soviet plane. The Soviets withdrew in 1989.

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TRUMP: “Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan.” — Cupboard assembly.

THE FACTS: Afghanistan was removed from the only cause for the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The dissolution occurred in a time of ethnic and political troubles, financial woes and a collection of revolutions that led Soviet republics to hunt their independence. The Soviet demise was accelerated by the heavy value of competing with the West to wield affect all over the world, together with in Afghanistan.

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OIL PRICES

TRUMP: “Do you think it’s just luck that gas prices are so low, and falling? Low gas prices are like another Tax Cut!” — tweet Tuesday.

TRUMP: “It’s not luck. It’s not luck. I called up certain people, and I said, ‘Let that damn oil and gasoline — you let it flow — the oil.’ It was going up to $125. If that would’ve happened, then you would’ve had a recession, depression.” — Cupboard assembly Wednesday.

THE FACTS: It’s not all about him, and even principally about him.

Whereas People might find yourself paying considerably much less for gasoline this yr, Trump’s suggestion that he deserves all of the credit score and averted a U.S. financial melancholy is an exaggeration. Oil costs, which peaked Oct. three, have been usually falling on the belief that U.S. sanctions towards Iran wouldn’t create a scarcity and on worry that a international oversupply of oil will spill into 2019 if slower worldwide financial progress depresses power demand.

The president’s supposed “let it flow” edict didn’t cease OPEC and its Russia-led allies from agreeing final month to chop oil manufacturing. That originally did not cease oil costs from sliding additional; they’ve since rebounded a couple of dollars in the previous week. Continued OPEC manufacturing cuts would push costs greater.

Trump has pointed to his constructive relations with Saudi Arabia, which stays the most important oil exporter. As a so-called swing producer with the power to regulate manufacturing up or down comparatively shortly, it will probably certainly affect the worth of crude. However the market is complicated: Canada, for instance, is definitely the highest supply of U.S. oil imports, with Saudi Arabia second.

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TARIFFS

TRUMP: “The United States Treasury has taken in MANY billions of dollars from the Tariffs we are charging China and other countries that have not treated us fairly. In the meantime we are doing well in various Trade Negotiations currently going on.” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: Trump is off on two main points. First, tariffs are taxes paid largely by U.S. enterprise and shoppers, not overseas nations. And whereas Trump’s “MANY billions” may sound like lots, it’s doing little to nothing to enhance the federal stability sheet. The U.S. authorities spent $four.1 trillion final fiscal yr and the finances deficit shot up, in line with Trump’s personal Treasury Division.

Customs and duties generated $41.three billion in revenues final yr, up from $34.6 billion in 2017.

That $6.7 billion improve occurred in half due to the president’s tariffs. However it amounted to only zero.16 % of federal spending.

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MATTIS

TRUMP, on Jim Mattis: “I wish him well. I hope he does well. But, as you know, President (Barack) Obama fired him and essentially so did I. I want results.” — Cupboard assembly Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Truly, Mattis resigned as protection secretary in protest over Trump’s determination to tug U.S. troops from Syria.

The retired Marine common introduced on Dec. 20 in a resignation letter that he was stepping down after Trump’s determination to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. Mattis stated he would keep on the job till the top of February. Three days later, Trump stated he was changing Mattis with the second-ranking protection official, Pat Shanahan, on Jan. 1.

As to the tenure beneath Obama, Mattis served as commander of the army’s Central Command. He departed a couple of months sooner than anticipated in 2013, in half due to disagreements over Iran.

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DRUG PRICES

TRUMP: “I think you’re going to see a tremendous reduction in drug prices.” — Cupboard assembly Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Costs proceed to rise. Administration insurance policies introduced final yr and at present being accomplished don’t appear to have shifted that development.

Figures on U.S. prescription drug worth modifications compiled by well being knowledge firm Elsevier present that from Dec. 20 by way of Jan. 2, there have been 1,179 product worth modifications. Of these, 30 have been worth cuts and the remaining 1,149 have been worth will increase, with 328 of them between 9 % and 10 %. All however one of many relaxation have been by decrease percentages. Elsevier spokesman Chris Capot stated extra corporations shall be saying worth will increase this month.

Individually, a knowledge agency whose software program might help sufferers discover probably the most cost-effective drugs says its info exhibits worth will increase on many generally used medicine for circumstances similar to hypertension and diabetes.

“In the first two days of January, prices have increased on more than 250 different products,” stated Michael Rea, CEO of Rx Financial savings Options. The typical improve is about 6 %, he added.

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IMMIGRATION

TRUMP, on the variety of immigrants dwelling in the U.S. illegally: “I used to hear 11 million all the time. It would always stay right at 11. I said, ‘Does it ever increase or go down?’ ‘No, it’s 11.’ Nobody knows. It’s probably 30, 35 million people. They would flow in, mostly from the southern border, they’d come in and nobody would talk about it, nobody would do anything about it.” — Cupboard assembly Wednesday.

THE FACTS: It’s nowhere near 30 million to 35 million, in response to his personal Homeland Safety secretary in addition to unbiased estimates.

The nonpartisan Pew Analysis Middle estimates there have been 10.7 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally in 2016, the newest knowledge out there. Advocacy teams on each side of the immigration challenge have comparable estimates.

At a Home listening to final month, Homeland Safety Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen acknowledged the quantity was “somewhere” between 11 million and 22 million, considerably decrease than Trump’s declare of 35 million.

In line with Pew, the variety of immigrants in the U.S. illegally had reached a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, representing about four % of the U.S. inhabitants, earlier than declining in half due to a weakening U.S. financial system.

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TRUMP: “The coyotes are using children to gain access into this country. They’re using these children. They’re not with families. They’re using the children. They’re taking the children. And then they dispose of the children after they’re done. This has been going on for years. This isn’t unique to us. But we want to stop it.” — Cupboard assembly Wednesday.

THE FACTS: This does occur, although it’s not as widespread as Trump suggests by speaking about it so typically.

He’s referring to adults who include youngsters they falsely declare to be theirs, in order that they gained’t be detained beneath a no-child-separation coverage.

However such instances of fraud are uncommon. In accordance with the Homeland Safety Division, about 500 immigrants have been discovered to be not a “legitimate family unit” and thus separated upon detention from April 19 to Sept. 30 of final yr. That’s a small fraction of the 107,000 households apprehended in the final finances yr, which ended Sept. 30.

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Related Press writers Eric Tucker, Chad Day, Josh Boak, Michael Balsamo, Colleen Lengthy, Jill Colvin, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Robert Burns and Deb Riechmann in Washington, David Koenig in Dallas, Kathy Gannon in Islamabad and AP Medical Author Linda A. Johnson in Trenton, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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EDITOR’S NOTE _ A take a look at the veracity of claims by political figures