Donald Trump’s “truthful hyperbole” fueled his rise to the top of the Republican ticket — and a surge of interest in fact-checking.
PolitiFact has been documenting Trump’s statements since 2011, when he was toying with a 2012 White House bid. Since then, we’ve fact-checked more than 300 Trump claims. Nearly three-quarters of them rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.
PolitiFact has been fact-checking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton since we launched in 2007, during her first run for the White House. Over that time, she has proven herself to be a careful speaker. Like all politicians, however, she sometimes stretches the truth.
We’ve rated almost 300 of her statements. About half have rated True or Mostly True.
Here’s a look at the Top 5 misleading claims for Trump and Clinton, in no particular order:
“Of course, there is large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.”
Pants on Fire! Actual instances of voter fraud — such as voter impersonation, ballot stuffing, and bought votes — are extremely rare, often unintentional and not on a scale large enough to affect a national election. (There are more examples of local voter fraud such as in Miami-Dade.)
An investigative reporting project found fewer than 200 alleged cases of voter impersonation from 2000 to 2011. Many of these never led to charges, while others ended in acquittals or dismissals. A Loyola Law School study found an even smaller number: 31 credible incidents out of more than 1 billion votes cast from 2000 to 2014.
Says Barack Obama “founded ISIS. I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.”
There’s a credible critique that Obama’s and Clinton’s foreign policy and military decisions helped create a space in which ISIS could operate and expand. But Trump explicitly said he meant Obama and Clinton literally “founded” ISIS. Of course, the founder of ISIS was a terrorist. It is run by a terrorist. Obama has said destroying ISIS is his “top priority.” Trump’s claim is Pants on Fire.
The number of illegal immigrants in the United States is “30 million, it could be 34 million.”
Experts repeatedly told us Trump’s figures are not plausible. Every credible estimate we found from independent researchers to the Department of Homeland security pins the number at around 11 million with a margin of error of 1 million — about a third of what Trump claimed. Pants on Fire.
“The Mexican government … they send the bad ones over.”
We found no evidence of any Mexican policy that pushes people out of Mexico and into the United States. As has been the case for decades, a combination of economic and family factors accounts for most of the migration from Mexico to the United States.
“I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center collapsed.
This flies in the face of all the evidence we could find: a couple of news articles that described rumors of celebrations that were either debunked or unproven. If thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it and there would be video or visual evidence. Trump’s claim defies basic logic. We rated it Pants on Fire.
“It was allowed,” she said, referring to her decision to use a private email server.
No one ever stopped Clinton from conducting work over her private email server exclusively, but that’s not the same thing as it being allowed. Offices within the State Department told an independent inspector general that if she had asked, they would not have allowed it. We rated this claim False.
Says, regarding the presence of classified information in her email, that FBI Director James Comey “said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.”
A reasonable person would interpret Clinton’s statement to mean Comey has confirmed that Clinton’s public remarks about her email setup have been truthful. This is not the case.
Talking specifically about Clinton’s closed-door FBI interview, Comey said that there is “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI” about her email practices. But Comey has specifically declined to comment on whether Clinton’s public remarks have been truthful.
Further, while not explicitly rebuking Clinton’s public comments, Comey has highlighted major problems with them, such as her claim that there was no classified information in her email. We rated Clinton’s claim about Comey Pants on Fire. (Comey reopened the investigation, according to a letter he sent to several members of Congress on Oct. 28.)
Says she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified” on her private email server while secretary of state.
Over the course of a year, Clinton and her staff painted a picture of an email setup where absolutely zero classified information slipped through the cracks, case closed. An independent FBI investigation has found that to be inaccurate.
It’s important to remember that just over 100 out of the 30,000 she turned over were classified at the time they were sent. Evidence seems to indicate that Clinton generally dealt with classified information in an appropriate manner. However, her sweeping claim is False.
“I remember landing under sniper fire.”
This Pants on Fire claim comes from Clinton’s 2008 run for the White House, but her political opponents still like to cite it. During a foreign policy speech that year, Clinton reminisced about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she made in March 1996 — saying she landed “under sniper fire.”
There’s no doubt flying into Bosnia was dangerous back in 1996. However, CBS News video shows Clinton arriving on the tarmac under no visible duress and greeting a child, who offered her a copy of a poem. A Washington Post review of more than 100 news stories from the time documented no security threats to the first lady.
Says Donald Trump “doesn’t make a thing in America.”
Many of Trump’s products are made overseas, but not all of them. At least some of his suits and the campaign memorabilia he sells on his website are made in the United States, as are Trump Wines, some of his brand-name bedding, and a few other products. So Clinton’s claim is False.
PolitiFact staff writers Mark Dent, Louis Jacobson and Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this article.
Politifact Florida is a partnership between The Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald to check out truth in politics.