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PolitiFact FL Delves Into Trump's Inaugural Speech; CIA Claims

Jan 25, 2017

Donald Trump has been president for less than a week, but fact checkers are already busy. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Katie Sanders of PolitiFact Florida about one claim the new president made during his inauguration, and another a day later at the CIA.

We're only a few days into the Donald Trump presidency, and already, the claims are coming fast and furious. It all started the very first day, with the inaugural address:

"We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon," he said. "One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world."

PolitiFact checks on that claim by the new president:


It’s tough to measure strength and confidence, but there are ways to measure wealth. We decided to look at whether America’s wealth has fallen while other countries became rich.

Trump’s office told us he was thinking about America’s $800 billion trade deficit. However, trade deficits are not a measure of national or household wealth. There is no question that trade with China has cost America jobs to the benefit of Chinese workers. But again, Trump said we made other countries rich while our wealth faded and that’s a different point.

Economists measure the wealth of nations in two ways. They look at the size of their economies, the GDP, and they look at how well the average citizen is doing, or GDP per capita.

Through either lens, the wealth of the United States has not dissipated.

This chart comes from International Monetary Fund data. With its $18 trillion economy, the United States is a good one-third wealthier than its closest economic rival, China.

Our ruling

Trump said that other countries became rich while the wealth of America "dissipated." Based on the most common measures of national wealth, that is inaccurate. The United States has the world’s largest economy and, when averaged across the population, the typical American does better than the people of any other country.

There is some argument to be made that the typical Chinese worker's wealth has gone up much faster than the typical American's, but the American is still much wealthier.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

Next, just a day later, in a speech at the CIA headquarters, Trump made this claim:

"I have a running war with the media," he said. "They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth. And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you're the No. 1 stop is exactly the opposite."

Here's PolitiFact's ruling on that:

A look at Trump’s own words reveal his readiness to deploy some harsh language. We count several specific instances when he publicly disparaged the intelligence community.

On Dec. 9, 2016, the Washington Post reported that intelligence officials had concluded that Russia had interfered with the presidential election to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Citing an unnamed official, the article said, "It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected."

The Trump transition team responded with a statement that discredited the intelligence agencies.

"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the statement said.

On Jan. 11, Trump tweeted

"Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?"

Trump didn’t back down when he was asked about the Nazi comparison at a press conference later that day.

"I think it was disgraceful — disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out," he said. "I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that — and I say that, and that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do."

Trump also tweeted his suspicions that intelligence officials were behind the leaked file.

"Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans - FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably released by ‘Intelligence’ even knowing there is no proof, and never will be."

Throughout the campaign, Trump consistently expressed doubt that Russia had meddled in the election at all. Allegations that Russia had stolen emails off the Democratic National Committee server were circulating by September.

Our ruling

Trump said the media created the appearance that he had a feud with the intelligence community. Trump’s own words undercut that assertion. While he did call himself a "big fan" and respected the service of the members of the intelligence community, he also lashed out on several occasions. He said that intelligence officials had used Nazi-like tactics against him and belittled the agencies as a whole for their incorrect belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Trump also openly doubted their conclusions during the campaign that Russia was trying to interfere with the presidential election.

The press did not invent Trump’s harsh words and dismissive tone. We rate this claim False.