Fact Check: Trump Off Base on Vets, Health Payments - NBC 6 South Florida
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

Fact Check: Trump Off Base on Vets, Health Payments

Over a week dominated by internal strife in the administration, policy was aired on a number of fronts as well. Some of it was factually challenged or just plain wrong



    Trump Vows to Destroy Gangs in Long Island

    Trump addressed police officers in Long Island, vowing to support law enforcement officials. This is president Trump's first visit to Long Island since taking office. (Published Friday, July 28, 2017)

    President Donald Trump bragged about a mission accomplished in veterans' health care that has not been achieved. He threatened to end health insurers' "bailouts" that actually help consumers. And he cited "tremendous" costs to taxpayers from providing health services to transgender troops without providing evidence of that expense.

    Over a week dominated by internal strife in the administration, a potty-mouthed tirade from the new communications chief and the collapse of health care legislation, policy was aired on a number of fronts as well. Some of it was factually challenged or just plain wrong.

    A look at a sampling of statements from last week.

    TRUMP: "If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!" — tweet Saturday.

    Melania Trump Vows to Continue Cyberbullying Fight Despite Skepticism

    [NATL] Melania Trump Vows to Continue Cyberbullying Fight Despite Skepticism

    Pushing back against her critics, first lady Melania Trump said she's committed to fighting cyberbullying despite skepticism. Her husband, President Donald Trump, routinely uses Twitter as an outlet for berating public figures he dislikes.

    (Published Wednesday, March 21, 2018)

    THE FACTS: If you think of a bailout as an infusion of government money to keep an industry in business, that's not what is going on here. He's talking about federal payments to insurance companies that are used to reduce deductibles and co-payments for consumers with modest incomes. Trump has only guaranteed those payments will continue through July.

    Analysts have said that without the payments, more insurers might drop out of the system, limiting options for consumers and clearing the way for the insurers that stay to charge more for coverage.

    Trump's threat to end "bailouts" to members of Congress is something of a mystery. What is clear is that he is upset they did not pass the Republican health care bill and wants them to think he will punish them if they don't get rid of Obamacare.


    TRUMP: "We've begun to process seamlessly transferring veterans' medical records. Horrible situation. You couldn't get your medical records. And now it's so easy and so good. And the system is fixed, finally, after all of these years."

    THE FACTS: That IT system is not fixed. The multiyear effort has barely begun. The costs are not even accounted for in Trump's proposed 2018 budget. The VA expects its outmoded scheduling system to remain for several more years.

    White House Defends Trump's Congratulatory Putin Call

    [NATL] White House Defends Trump's Congratulatory Putin Call

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defends President Donald Trump's congratulatory call to Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election, noting that then-President Barack Obama made a similar call in 2012.

    (Published Tuesday, March 20, 2018)


    TRUMP: "We have Choice. ... We have nearly doubled the number of veterans given approvals to see the doctor of their choice."

    THE FACTS: He's exaggerating the progress on this front. Trump is referring to the VA's Choice program, which offers federally paid medical care outside the VA. Put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA, the program allows veterans to see outside doctors if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility.

    The department's approvals to veterans to use Choice have grown under Trump, but they haven't nearly doubled. VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote in a recent USA Today editorial that outside care programs for the first half of the year increased 26 percent over the same period last year. The program is also running out of money and will need an emergency replenishment by Congress to head off disruptions in care.


    TRUMP: "We've published wait times at every VA facility. I used to go around and talk about the veterans and they'd stand on line for nine days, seven days, four days ... 15 days. People that could have been given a prescription and been better right away end up dying waiting on line. That's not happening anymore."

    Court Rejects Bid to Deny Driver's Licenses to 'Dreamers'

    [NATL] Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Deny Driver's Licenses to DACA Recipients
    The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Arizona's plea to stop issuing drivers licenses to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The plea comes from former Governor Jan Brewer's 2012 executive order to deny licenses to DACA recipients.
    (Published Tuesday, March 20, 2018)

    THE FACTS: Problems of delay or substandard care at some of the VA facilities have not disappeared. On access, the VA reported recently that veterans have been waiting more than 60 days for new appointments at about 30 VA facilities nationwide.

    On quality of care, the VA's inspector general issued urgent action reports in April and May warning that patients at Washington's VA medical center were being put at unnecessary risk of harm due to bad inventory practices, like potentially dirty syringes and medical supply shortages.


    TRUMP: "We've delivered same-day mental health services at every VA medical center."

    THE FACTS: This may be the case, but it happened before Trump took office. By late 2016, the department's blog announced that the goal of providing same-day primary and mental-health care when medically necessary would be achieved at every VA medical center by year's end. Shulkin told Congress in late January the services already were fully in place.


    FBI Deputy Director Fired Two Days Before Retirement

    [NATL] FBI Deputy Director Fired Two Days Before Retirement

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was a regular target of President Donald Trump's anger and criticism.

    (Published Saturday, March 17, 2018)

    TRUMP: "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail." — tweet Wednesday saying transgender troops would be banned from the armed forces.

    THE FACTS: He's offered no substantiation for the assertion that transgender military members represent tremendous medical costs and disruption. A Rand Corp. study found otherwise.

    It estimates that out of about 1.3 million active-duty military personnel, 2,450 are transgender. Only a subset would seek transition-related care, such as hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery. Based on private insurance data, the study estimates a minimal increase in costs from such care for the active-duty armed forces — no more than 0.13 percent, or $8.4 million annually.

    As for disruption, members representing less than 0.1 percent of the total force would seek transition-related care that could affect their deployments, the study says.

    The Pentagon says it is allowing transgender troops to remain in uniform and not changing its policy otherwise until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis receives an authoritative directive on what to do.


    White House Musical Chairs

    [NATL] White House Musical Chairs

    Many top positions in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and the West Wing have been in flux.

    (Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018)

    TRUMP: "Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!" — tweet Tuesday.

    THE FACTS: That's wrong. McCabe's wife, Jill McCabe, did not get $700,000 in donations from Hillary Clinton ("H'' in the tweet) for a Virginia state Senate race in 2015. Jill McCabe got the money from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's political action committee and the Virginia Democratic Party. Those donations happened before the FBI says McCabe was promoted to deputy director of the FBI and took a supervisory role in the Clinton email investigation. He became acting director in May after Trump fired James Comey.


    TRUMP: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!" — tweet Tuesday.

    THE FACTS: Trump is entitled to be dissatisfied with his attorney general but there's a backstory. If Sessions has been quiet about Clinton, it's because the election is over and he promised during his confirmation hearings in January to step aside from any investigation of her. As a Trump campaign loyalist last year, he was a critic of the Democratic nominee and said in January that his objectivity could be in question if he was involved in any Justice Department action concerning her email practices as secretary of state.

    Trump is also upset that Sessions stepped aside from the investigation into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

    White House: 'No Immediate Personnel Changes at This Time'

    [NATL] White House: 'No Immediate Personnel Changes at This Time'

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press Friday that no more staff changes were coming, and that the Chief of Staff told staffers they "shouldn't be concerned."

    (Published Friday, March 16, 2018)

    The effect of those recusals is to leave Trump potentially more exposed to Justice Department professionals who do not have political ties to him.


    ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, White House communications director: "In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @JusticeDept" — tweet Wednesday, later deleted.

    THE FACTS: His financial disclosure was not leaked — illegally or otherwise. It is a public record.

    It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter to the Export-Import Bank, where Scaramucci had been employed at a senior level since mid-June. The Associated Press subsequently obtained the same financial disclosure Thursday. A reporter filled out a publicly available form, turned it in at the bank's office and was emailed a copy of Scaramucci's financial disclosure a half hour later.

    In a feuding White House, Scaramucci appeared to blame chief of staff Reince Priebus for leaking the information, by attaching Priebus' handle to the tweet. Scaramucci then denied he was blaming Priebus. Then The New Yorker published an interview with Scaramucci in which he went on a profane tirade against Priebus, calling him "paranoid schizophrenic" and pledging to get him and others fired. Scaramucci made vulgar comments about White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as well.

    Texas Dems Say Russian Hackers May Be Targeting Convention

    [NATL] Texas Democrats Say Russian Hackers May Be Targeting Their Convention

    While organizing for local conventions, Glen Maxey, legislative affairs director for the Texas Democratic Party, found almost 50 email registrations that seemed odd. He thinks it was a foray into Texas politics by Russian hackers.


    (Published Friday, March 16, 2018)

    After all this, Trump announced he was replacing Priebus with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.


    TRUMP: "Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah." — at news conference Tuesday with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

    THE FACTS: Not so with Hezbollah. The group is a partner in the Lebanese government, with two Cabinet seats. The Lebanese government is indeed fighting against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. But so is Hezbollah. Its fighters are leading a military offensive to wipe out Sunni extremists from IS and al-Qaida from areas along the Lebanese-Syrian border.


    TRUMP: "We're going to be a net exporter of energy very shortly." — Youngstown, Ohio, speech Tuesday.

    Trump: Russians Carried Out Nerve Agent Poisoning

    [NATL] Trump: ‘It Looks Like’ Russians Carried Out Nerve Agent Poisoning

    President Donald Trump was asked his thoughts about the nerve agent poisoning in the U.K. that targeted a former Russian spy and his daughter.

    (Published Thursday, March 15, 2018)

    THE FACTS: Depends how you define very shortly. The U.S. Energy Information Agency said in January the country could become a net energy exporter by 2026 if trends remain. The White House said in its own report last month it could happen as soon as 2020 but did not substantiate the claim.

    As a net exporter, the U.S. would still import oil, natural gas and other energy sources but send abroad more than it buys.


    SCARAMUCCI: "The majority of the American people, certainly all the American people that voted for him, either don't care about the tweets, they find them funny. They find them refreshing. They don't overreact ... and micro-analyze them the way you guys do." — CNN on Wednesday.

    THE FACTS: Actually, most Americans frown on Trump's Twitter conduct and most Republicans do not find his tweets refreshing, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. In all, two-thirds of people find his tweets "inappropriate" and "insulting" and about half said they're "dangerous," the poll found. One-third said they are effective.

    Among Republicans, about 40 percent called his tweets inappropriate and insulting and about the same percentage called them refreshing. Fewer than 3 in 10 Republicans called his tweets dangerous and a majority said they're effective.


    TRUMP: "As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal." — tweet Friday.

    THE FACTS: He didn't say that from the beginning. During the 2016 campaign, he promised to "immediately repeal and replace" Barack Obama's health care law, as he put it on one tweet from last year. He did not propose to let the law fail, then follow up with a new package.


    TRUMP: "Democrats, they win in Youngstown. But not this time. Right? They started to get a little nervous at the beginning of that evening when they said Youngstown seems to be going the other way. That hasn't happened in a lot of decades." — Youngstown speech.

    THE FACTS: Trump errs in claiming that 2016 election victory in Mahoning County, where Youngstown is situated. He did a lot better in the county Mitt Romney did in 2012, but he still lost to Clinton by 3 percentage points — 50-47. Romney lost to Obama by 29 percentage points there in 2012.


    Associated Press writers Emily Swanson, Eric Tucker, Matthew Daly, Lauran Neergaard and Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report. Find AP Fact Checks here