Trump’s indictment video features a litany of favorite falsehoods

Former president Donald Trump released a four-minute video after his indictment on federal criminal charges concerning his retention of hundreds of classified documents after he left the White House. Here’s a quick roundup of the factual claims he made in the video, many of which focused on his record as president and what he viewed as unwarranted attacks during his presidency. He did not address the charges he faces in detail.

“The Mueller hoax. No collusion after two years.”

This is false. Trump was not exonerated. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III revealed significant criminal activity by some of Trump’s campaign advisers and by Russian individuals and entities, and he refused to say Trump did not attempt to obstruct justice.

The special counsel concluded Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from people associated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. The special counsel’s report, released in April 2019, concluded that the Trump campaign welcomed the assistance from Russia even if it did not coordinate with that country: “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The report also stated: “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

We were energy independent.”

Trump often made this claim as president, basing the statement on the fact that the United States exported more crude and refined products than it imported. (The United States still relied on other countries for its energy needs.) But he’s wrong to suggest that the situation has changed under Biden. In 2022, the United States imported about 8.32 million barrels per day of petroleum and exported about 9.58 million barrels per day of petroleum, according to the Energy Information Administration, making the United States still a net exporter.

We had the biggest tax cuts in history.”

Trump’s tax cut amounted to nearly 0.9 percent of the gross domestic product, meaning it was far smaller than President Ronald Reagan’s tax cut in 1981, which was 2.89 percent of GDP. Trump’s tax cut is the eighth largest tax cut — and even smaller than two tax cuts passed under Barack Obama. Trump’s tax cut was heavily tilted toward the wealthy and corporations.

The biggest regulation cuts in history.”

Trump may have grounds to brag about his efforts to peel back regulations, but his claim of the most or biggest regulation cuts cannot be easily verified and appears to be false. There is no reliable metric on which to judge this claim — or to compare him to previous presidents. Many experts say the most significant regulatory changes in U.S. history were the deregulation of airline, rail and trucking industries during the Carter administration, which are estimated to provide consumers with $70 billion in annual benefits. A detailed November 2020 report by the Penn Program on Regulation concluded that “without exception, each major claim we have uncovered by the President or other White House official about regulation turns out to be exaggerated, misleading, or downright untrue.” The report said that the Trump administration had not reduced the overall number of pages from the regulatory code book, and it completed far more regulatory actions than deregulatory ones once the full data were examined.

“Got more votes than any sitting president in history by far.

This may be technically correct, but Trump ignores the fact that more Americans voted in the 2020 election — two-thirds of the voting eligible population — than in any other in 120 years. When the counting was finished, Trump had received 74 million votes — and Biden won more than 81 million. That’s a margin of 4.5 percentage points. Biden’s margin in the popular vote was larger than Barack Obama’s victory in 2012 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004.

We are leading in the polls by a lot, against Biden.

This is false. According to a roundup of polls by FiveThirtyEight, Biden usually leads Trump in well-regarded polls. Of course, the presidential election is determined by the electoral college so Biden’s margin in the popular vote in some polls might not be enough to overcome the GOP advantage in the electoral college. In the 2020 election, Biden won a solid victory in the electoral college, 306-232, and won a majority of the popular vote, beating Trump by more than 7 million votes.

“It’s a hoax, the whole thing is a hoax, just like Russia, Russia, Russia.”

Trump often claims he had the right to retain classified documents under the Presidential Records Act. But he’s wrong. Under the PRA, a president has a lot of leeway to deem something a presidential paper while he is president. But the possibility of such give-and-take ended when the clock struck noon on Jan. 20, 2021. “Upon the conclusion of a President’s term of office, or if a President serves consecutive terms upon the conclusion of the last term, the Archivist of the United States shall assume responsibility for the custody, control, and preservation of, and access to, the Presidential records of that President,” the law says.

For all of Trump’s focus on the PRA, there is another law at play here — the Federal Records Act. The PRA does not have a criminal enforcement provision. But a 2012 ruling by Judge Amy Berman Jackson — rejecting a lawsuit by a conservative group that Clinton’s sock-drawer tapes should be part of the Archives — said that the FRA grants the National Archives and Records Administration the authority to initiate “action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records wrongfully removed and for other redress provided by law.”

“It’s called election interference.

Trump asserts that the investigation is politically motivated to thwart his candidacy. Yet he could have settled the matter by quickly returning the documents when they were requested by the National Archives soon after he left office.

Our country is in decline, we are a failing nation.

This may be a matter of opinion but the United States has rebounded from the economic turmoil of the pandemic, with unemployment rates at record lows.

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