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A look at some of the false claims made during Biden-Trump debate



FILE - Protesters gather in front of the burning Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct building Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump traded barbs and a variety of false and misleading information as they faced off in their first debate of the 2024 election.

Here’s a look at the false and misleading claims on Thursday night by the two candidates.

JAN. 6

TRUMP: “They talk about a relatively small number of people that went to the Capitol and in many cases were ushered in by the police.”

THE FACTS: That’s false. The attack on the U.S. Capitol was the deadliest assault on the seat of American power in over 200 years. As thoroughly documented by video, photographs and people who were there, thousands of people descended on Capitol Hill in what became a brutal scene of hand-to-hand combat with police.

In an internal memo on March 7, 2023, U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said that the allegation that “our officers helped the rioters and acted as ‘tour guides’” is “outrageous and false.” A Capitol Police spokesperson confirmed the memo’s authenticity to The Associated Press. More than 1,400 people have been charged with federal crimes stemming from the riot. More than 850 people have pleaded guilty to crimes, and 200 others have been convicted at trial.

TRUMP, on then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s actions on Jan. 6: “Because I offered her 10,000 soldiers or National Guard and she turned them down.”

THE FACTS: Pelosi did not direct the National Guard. Further, as the Capitol came under attack, she and then-Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell called for military assistance, including from the National Guard.

The Capitol Police Board makes the decision on whether to call National Guard troops to the Capitol. It is made up of the House Sergeant at Arms, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol. The board decided not to call the guard ahead of the insurrection but did eventually request assistance after the rioting had already begun, and the troops arrived several hours later.

The House Sergeant at Arms reported to Pelosi and the Senate Sergeant at Arms reported to McConnell. There is no evidence that either Pelosi or McConnell directed the security officials not to call the guard beforehand. Drew Hammill, a then-spokesperson for Pelosi, said after the insurrection that Pelosi was never informed of such a request.


TRUMP, on Biden: “He wants to raise your taxes by four times.”

THE FACTS: That’s not accurate.

Trump has used that line at rallies, but it has no basis in fact. Biden actually wants to prevent tax increases on anyone making less than $400,000, which is the vast majority of taxpayers.

More importantly, Biden’s budget proposal does not increase taxes as much as Trump claims, though the increases are focused on corporations and the wealthy. Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for individuals are set to expire after 2025, because they were not fully funded when they became law.

TRUMP, referring to Jan. 6, 2021, the day a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of Biden’s victory: “On January 6th we had the lowest taxes ever. We had the lowest regulations ever on January 6th.”

THE FACTS: The current federal income tax was only instituted in 1913, and tax rates have fluctuated significantly in the decades since. Rates were lower in the 1920s, just prior to the Great Depression. Trump did cut taxes during his time in the White House, but the rates weren’t the lowest in history.

Government regulations have also ebbed and flowed in the country’s history, but there’s been an overall increase in regulations as the country modernized and its population grew. There are now many more regulations covering the environment, employment, financial transactions and other aspects of daily life. While Trump slashed some regulations, he didn’t take the country back to the less regulated days of its past.


TRUMP, on Minneapolis protests after the killing of George Floyd: “If I didn’t bring in the National Guard, that city would have been destroyed.”

THE FACTS: Trump didn’t call the National Guard into Minneapolis during the unrest following the death of George Floyd. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz deployed the National Guard to the city.


BIDEN: “It’s $15 for an insulin shot, as opposed to $400.”

THE FACTS: No, that’s not exactly right. Out-of-pocket insulin costs for older Americans on Medicare were capped at $35 in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act that President Joe Biden signed into law. The cap took effect last year, when many drugmakers announced they would lower the price of the drug to $35 for most users on private insurance. But Biden regularly overstates that many people used to pay up to $400 monthly. People with diabetes who have Medicare or private insurance paid about $450 yearly prior to the law, a Department of Health and Human Services study released in December 2022 found.


TRUMP, touting his environmental record, said that “during my four years, I had the best environmental numbers ever” and that he supports “immaculate” air and water.

THE FACTS: That’s far from the whole story. During his presidency, Trump rolled back some provisions of the Clean Water Act, eased regulations on coal, oil and gas companies and pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. When wildfires struck California in 2020, Trump dismissed the scientific consensus that climate change had played a role. Trump also dismissed scientists’ warnings about climate change and routinely proposed deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. Those reductions were blocked by Democratic and Republican lawmakers.


TRUMP: “The problem they have is they’re radical because they will take the life of a child in the eighth month, the ninth month, and even after birth, after birth.”

THE FACTS: Trump inaccurately referred to abortions after birth. Infanticide is criminalized in every state, and no state has passed a law that allows killing a baby after birth.

Abortion rights advocates say terms like this and “late-term abortions” attempt to stigmatize abortions later in pregnancy. Abortions later in pregnancy are exceedingly rare. In 2020, less than 1% of abortions in the United States were performed at or after 21 weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Abortions later in pregnancy also are usually the result of serious complications, such as fetal anomalies, that put the life of the woman or fetus at risk, medical experts say. In most cases, these are also wanted pregnancies, experts say.


TRUMP on Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was detained in Russia: “He should have had him out a long time ago, but Putin’s probably asking for billions and billions of dollars because this guy pays it every time.”

THE FACTS: Trump is wrong to say that Biden pays any sort of fee “every time” to secure the release of hostages and wrongfully detained Americans. There’s also zero evidence that Putin is asking for any money in order to free Gershkovich. Just like in the Trump administration, the deals during the Biden administration that have brought home hostages and detainees involved prisoner swaps — not money transfers.

Trump’s reference to money appeared to be about the 2023 deal in which the U.S. secured the release of five detained Americans in Iran after billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets were transferred from banks in South Korea to Qatar. The U.S. has said that that the money would be held in restricted accounts and will only be able to be used for humanitarian goods, such as medicine and food.


BIDEN: Trump told Americans to “inject bleach” into their arms to treat COVID-19.

THE FACTS: That’s overstating it. Rather, Trump asked whether it would be possible to inject disinfectant into the lungs.

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute,” he said at an April 2020 press conference. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.”


TRUMP: “What he’s done to the Black population is horrible, including the fact that for 10 years he called them ‘super predators.’ … We can’t forget that – super predators … And they’ve taken great offense at it.”

THE FACTS: This oft-repeated claim by Trump dating back to the 2020 campaign is untrue. It was Hillary Clinton, then the first lady, who used the term “super predator” to advocate for the 1994 crime bill that Biden co-authored more than thirty years ago. Biden did warn of “predators” in a floor speech in support of his bill.


TRUMP, referring to Biden: “He’s the one that killed people with a bad border and flooding hundreds of thousands of people dying and also killing our citizens when they come in.”

THE FACTS: A mass influx of migrants coming into the U.S. illegally across the southern border has led to a number of false and misleading claims by Trump. For example, he regularly claims other countries are emptying their prisons and mental institutions to send to the U.S. There is no evidence to support that.

Trump has also argued the influx of immigrants is causing a crime surge in the U.S., although statistics actually show violent crime is on the way down.

There have been recent high-profile and heinous crimes allegedly committed by people in the country illegally. But FBI statistics do not separate out crimes by the immigration status of the assailant, nor is there any evidence of a spike in crime perpetrated by migrants, either along the U.S.-Mexico border or in cities seeing the greatest influx of migrants, like New York. Studies have found that people living in the country illegally are less likely than native-born Americans to have been arrested for violent, drug and property crimes. For more than a century, critics of immigration have sought to link new arrivals to crime. In 1931, the Wickersham Commission did not find any evidence supporting a connection between immigration and increased crime, and many studies since then have reached similar conclusions.

Texas is the only state that tracks crimes by immigration status. A 2020 study published by the National Academy of Sciences found “considerably lower felony arrest rates” among people in the United States illegally than legal immigrants or native-born.

Some crime is expected given the large population of immigrants. There were an estimated 10.5 million people in the country illegally in 2021, according to the latest estimate by Pew Research Center, a figure that has almost certainly risen with large influxes at the border. In 2022, the Census Bureau estimated the foreign-born population at 46.2 million, or nearly 14% of the total, with most states seeing double-digit percentage increases in the last dozen years.


BIDEN, referring to Trump after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017: “The one who said I think they’re fine people on both sides.”

THE FACTS: Trump did use those words to describe attendees of the deadly rally, which was planned by white nationalists. But as Trump supporters have pointed out, he also said that day that he wasn’t talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists in attendance.

“You had some very bad people in that group,” Trump said during a news conference a few days after the rally, “But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

He then added that he wasn’t talking about “the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.” Instead, he said, the press had been unfair in its treatment of protesters who were there to innocently and legally protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The gathering planned by white nationalists shocked the nation when it exploded into chaos: violent brawling in the streets, racist and antisemitic chants, smoke bombs, and finally, a car speeding into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring dozens more.


TRUMP: We had the greatest economy in history.”

THE FACTS: That’s not accurate. First of all, the pandemic triggered a massive recession during his presidency. The government borrowed $3.1 trillion in 2020 to stabilize the economy. Trump had the ignominy of leaving the White House with fewer jobs than when he entered.

But even if you take out issues caused by the pandemic, economic growth averaged 2.67% during Trump’s first three years. That’s pretty solid. But it’s nowhere near the 4% averaged during Bill Clinton’s two terms from 1993 to 2001, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In fact, growth has been stronger so far under Biden than under Trump.

Trump did have the unemployment rate get as low as 3.5% before the pandemic. But again, the labor force participation rate for people 25 to 54 — the core of the U.S. working population — was higher under Clinton. The participation rate has also been higher under Biden than Trump.

Trump also likes to talk about how low inflation was under him. Gasoline fell as low as $1.77 a gallon. But, of course, that price dip happened during pandemic lockdowns when few people were driving. The low prices were due to a global health crisis, not Trump’s policies.

Similarly, average 30-year mortgage rates dipped to 2.65% during the pandemic. Those low rates were a byproduct of Federal Reserve efforts to prop up a weak economy, rather than the sign of strength that Trump now suggests it was.


BIDEN: “The truth is, I’m the only president this century that doesn’t have any — this decade — any troops dying anywhere in the world like he did.”

”THE FACTS: At least 16 service members have been killed in hostile action since Biden took office in January 2021. On Aug. 26, 2021, 13 died during a suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, as U.S. troops withdrew from the country. An enemy drone killed three U.S. service members at a desert base in Jordan on Jan. 28 of this year.


BIDEN: “159, or 58, don’t know an exact number, presidential historians, they’ve had meetings and they voted, who is the worst president in American history … They said he was the worst in all American history. That’s a fact. That’s not conjecture.”

THE FACTS: That’s almost right, but not quite. The survey in question, a project from professors at the University of Houston and Coastal Carolina University, included 154 usable responses, from 525 respondents invited to participate.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. copus

    June 28, 2024 at 7:57 am

    “The attack on the U.S. Capitol was the deadliest assault on the seat of American power in over 200 years” you mean the ONE civilian that was murdered by capital police? the only person who died that day.
    the AP is NOT a creditable news source and should apologize for lying to the American people.

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