Analysis | Fact-checking the first Biden-Trump 2024 presidential debate (2024)

In the contentious first presidential debate between President Biden and former president Donald Trump, Trump confidently relied on false assertions that have been debunked repeatedly. Biden, in what was viewed as a faltering performance, stretched the truth on occasion.

Here’s a roundup of 35 of the most noteworthy claims that initially caught our interest, in the order in which they were made. As is our practice, we do not award Pinocchios when we do a roundup of facts in debates.

“All he said was is [it’s] not that serious, to inject a little bleach in your arm.”

—Biden

Trump did not say people should inject bleach in their arm. Instead, at a pandemic briefing in 2020 he spoke confusingly of an “injection inside” of lungs with a disinfectant. He made the remarks after an aide presented a study showing how bleach could kill the virus when it remained on surfaces. Trump later claimed he was speaking “sarcastically,” though he seemed serious at the time.

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Readers can judge for themselves. Here are his full remarks on April 23 that year: “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. 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.”

“We brought on in a position where we have 800,000 new manufacturing jobs.”

—Biden

The number of manufacturing jobs has rebounded since the pandemic, but growth in these jobs has essentially stalled. Only about 25,000 of the nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs were created since January 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and there has been virtually no increase at all this year.

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The level reached in May, a tad under 13 million, is still below that of 2008, before the Great Recession. Left unsaid is that overall manufacturing jobs have declined by a third since a peak was reached in 1979, even as the number of available workers has climbed by nearly 60 percent.

“We have the greatest economy in the history of our country and we have never done so well.”

—Trump

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Before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and sent unemployment soaring, the president could certainly brag about the state of the economy in his first three years as president. But he ran into trouble when he made a play for the history books to say it was the best economy in U.S. history. By just about any important measure, the economy under Trump has not done as well as it did under Presidents Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton.

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The gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in 2019, slipping from 2.9 percent in 2018 and 2.4 percent in 2017. But in 1997, 1998 and 1999, GDP grew 4.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. Yet even that period paled in comparison with the 1950s and 60s. Growth between 1962 and 1966 ranged from 4.4 percent to 6.6 percent. In postwar 1950 and 1951, it was 8.7 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate reached a low of 3.5 percent under Trump, but it dipped as low as 2.5 percent in 1953.

“A lot of credit for the military and no wars.”

—Trump

This is not true. Trump often says he was the first president in 72 years not to have any wars, which takes us back to 1948, when Truman was elected in his own right after stepping up to finish Franklin D. Roosevelt’s final term months before the end of World War II. This is a more broad-based claim than a statement Trump made in his farewell address as president — that he had started no new wars.

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Jimmy Carter, president from 1977 to 1981, not only never formally declared war or sought authorization to use force from Congress during his presidency, but military records show not a single soldier died in hostile action during his presidency. Eight military personnel died during the 1980 Iranian hostage rescue mission, but the military deems those as nonhostile deaths. (A helicopter collided with another aircraft.) A Marine and an Army soldier were also killed when a mob burned the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

At least 65 active-duty troops died in hostile action in Trump’s presidency, the records show, as he ramped up commitments in Iraq and Syria to fight the ISIS terrorist group while also launching airstrikes on Syria as punishment for a chemical weapons attack. Trump also escalated hostilities with Iran, including the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Trump said at the time the strike was carried out in accordance with the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution of 2001.

“The only jobs he created are for illegal immigrants and bounce back jobs that bounce back from the covid.”

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—Trump

This is false. Biden’s jobs record in his first three years certainly tops Trump’s performance. In the first three years of Trump’s term, about 6.5 million jobs were created — less than half the number created under Biden in the same time period. The number of jobs is now 6.2 million higher than the peak under Trump in February 2020, before the pandemic struck the economy.

Meanwhile, employment for the native-born population has increased by almost 6.8 million under Biden, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (We start from February 2021, the first full month that reflects employment under Biden.) Employment of foreign-born workers increased about 5 million from February 2021 though May, the bureau says. The agency says this figure includes more than just undocumented immigrants; it also includes legally admitted immigrants, including refugees, and temporary residents such as students and short-term workers.

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“He had the largest tax cut in history, $2 trillion.”

—Biden

“The only thing he was right about is I gave you the largest tax cut in history.”

—Trump

This is false. 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 in the past century — and smaller than two tax cuts passed under Barack Obama. Trump’s tax cut was heavily tilted toward the wealthy and corporations.

“I also gave you the largest regulation cut in history.”

—Trump

Trump’s 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 the 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 that it completed far more regulatory actions than deregulatory ones once the full data was examined.

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“I was getting out of Afghanistan, but we were getting out with dignity, with strength, with power.”

—Trump

It’s fair game to criticize Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but Trump played a significant role in the outcome as well. In March 2020, Trump approved an agreement with the Taliban (not the Afghan government) for U.S. forces to leave the country by May 2021. Despite abandoning many of Trump’s policies, Biden decided to stick with this one, just stretching out the departure by a few months.

“Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do. I planned to withdraw on May 1st, and we should keep as close to that schedule as possible,” Trump proclaimed after Biden announced he would complete the withdrawal by that September.

At a political rally in June 2021, just weeks before the Afghan government collapsed, Trump bragged: “I started the process. All the troops are coming back home. They couldn’t stop the process. Twenty-one years is enough, don’t we think? Twenty-one years. They [the Biden administration] couldn’t stop the process. They wanted to, but it was very tough to stop the process.”

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By that time, the bipartisan Afghanistan Study Group, in its final congressionally mandated report, warned that a quick departure of U.S. troops would probably not succeed. “The probability of maintaining some sort of stability in Afghanistan after a prompt withdrawal of troops and a substantial reduction in aid is minimal,” the report said. “Almost every interlocutor the Study Group consulted used the word ‘catastrophic’ or a synonym thereof to describe the effects of this option.”

“Remember, more people died under his administration, even though we had largely fixed it. More people died under his administration than our administration, and we were right in the middle of it, something which a lot of people don’t like to talk about.”

—Trump

This statement lacks context. Of the 1.2 million Americans who died of covid, about 60 percent died under Biden compared to 40 percent for Trump. But Trump was president during the pandemic for a much shorter time — about 10 months, compared with more than three years under Biden. So the monthly death toll under Trump is higher. A vaccine was created in record time, but it was left to the Biden administration to distribute it in an efficient manner.

With some justification, the Biden team can claim the Trump administration did not leave behind much of a national strategy beyond vaccinating health-care workers and people living in long-term care facilities, both of whom were at fixed sites where they could receive vaccines. Trump more than 20 times promised 100 million doses of vaccine would be delivered by the end of 2020 — a goal his administration badly failed to meet.

The Biden administration came up with ways to provide states with resources to deliver vaccines — which Trump had resisted — and to prevent states from hoarding doses. The new administration also fleshed out details of a national plan that had remained vague under Trump.

“We’re like a Third World nation between weaponization of his election, trying to go after his political opponent, all of the things he’s done, we’ve become like a Third World nation.”

—Trump

Trump refers to “weaponization,” code for Biden’s supposedly using the resources of the U.S. government to target his political opponent. There is no evidence that Biden directed the Justice Department or local prosecutors to pursue prosecutions of Trump.

“I’d love to ask him why he allowed millions of people to come in here from prisons, jails and mental institutions to come into our country and destroy our country.”

—Trump

This is poppyco*ck. Immigration experts know of no effort by other countries to empty their prisons and mental institutions. As someone who came to prominence in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Trump appears to be channeling Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s 1980 Mariel boatlift. About 125,000 Cubans were allowed to flee to the United States in 1,700 boats — but there was a backlash when it was discovered that hundreds of refugees had been released from jails and mental health facilities.

Helen Fair, research associate at the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research in Britain, which tracks the world prison population (except for a handful of countries), says the numbers keep growing. In 2013, 10.2 million people were in prison globally — and that had grown to 10.77 million in 2021. A preliminary estimate for February 2024, not ready to be published, indicates the population has grown even more. “In short, I would disagree with Donald Trump’s assertion,” she said.

“He’s destroying Medicare because all of these people are coming in. They’re putting them on Medicare. They’re putting them on Social Security. They’re going to destroy Social Security. This man is going to single-handedly destroy Social Security.”

—Trump

Undocumented immigrants improve the health of Social Security and Medicare by paying payroll taxes without receiving benefits.

In a fact check, we calculated the figure for Social Security payments made by undocumented immigrants is now about $27 billion. For Medicare, it should be at least $6 billion, as the Medicare tax is about 23 percent of the Social Security tax.

“Fifty-one years ago, you had Roe v. Wade and everybody wanted to get it [the power to legislate on abortion] back to the states. Everybody without exception, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, everybody wanted it back. Religious leaders. … Every legal scholar throughout the world, the most respected, wanted it brought back to the States.”

—Trump

This is absurd. The docket for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case in which the right to abortion was overturned, is filled with briefs from legal scholars saying it would be a mistake to overturn decades of legal precedent.

“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. If you look at the former governor of Virginia, he was willing to do this. He said, we’ll put the baby aside and we’ll determine what we do with the baby, meaning we’ll kill the baby.”

—Trump

This is a common Republican talking point — that Democrats support nationwide abortion on demand up until the moment of birth. The implication is that late-term abortions are common — and that they are routinely accepted by Democrats.

The reality, according to federal and state data, is that abortions past the point of viability are extremely rare. When they do happen, they often involve painful emotional and even moral decisions.

About two-thirds of abortions occur at eight weeks of pregnancy or earlier, and nearly 90 percent take place in the first 12 weeks, or within most definitions of the first trimester, according to estimates by the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights. About 5.5 percent of abortions take place after 15 weeks, with just 1.3 percent at 21 weeks or longer.

Meanwhile, Trump once again grossly mischaracterizes remarks by former Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D), a physician.

Northam told a radio show in 2019 that late-term abortion procedures are “done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s not viable. So in this particular example, if a mother’s in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” Critics suggested the governor was endorsing infanticide. His office later said Northam was referring to medical treatment, not ending the life of a baby.

“I changed in a way that now you’re in a situation where there are 40 percent fewer people coming across the border illegally. That’s better than when he left office.”

—Biden

Biden’s framing is misleading. He is referring to a Department of Homeland Security estimate that the seven-day average of migrant apprehensions dropped more than 40 percent to less than 2,400 encounters per day since he issued an executive action barring asylum at the southern border. But the numbers are still higher than when Trump was president.

“We had the safest border in history in that final couple of months of my presidency.”

—Trump

This is false. Trump’s efforts to completely shut the border did not bear fruit until the coronavirus pandemic emerged in 2020 and he was able to turn away migrants by citing a public health emergency — but even then apprehensions at the southern border were lower than April 2017, shortly after he took office. Then the numbers began to spike again. Apprehensions in Trump’s final two months in office were much higher than in President Barack Obama’s last two months in office. Apprehensions were 43,251 in December 2016 and 31,576 in January 2017, the last two months of the Obama presidency, compared with 71,141 and 75,316 in Trump’s last two months. The highest number of apprehensions under Obama was 67,342, in March 2009.

“We have a thousand millionaires in America, I mean billionaires. And what’s happening? They’re in a situation where they in fact pay 8.2 percent taxes.”

—Biden

We’ve given the president two Pinocchios for this claim. He’s referring to a 2021 White House study concluding that the 400 wealthiest taxpayers paid an effective tax rate of 8 percent. But that estimate included unrealized gains in the income calculation. That’s not how the tax laws work. People are taxed on capital gains when they sell their stocks or other assets. So this is only a figure for a hypothetical tax system.

According to IRS data on the top 0.001 percent — 1,475 taxpayers with at least $77 million in adjusted gross income in 2020 — the average tax rate was 23.7 percent. The top 1 percent of taxpayers (income of at least $548,000) paid nearly 26 percent.

“I had the highest approval rating for veterans taking care of the V.A. [Veterans Affairs]. He is the worst.”

—Trump

This is a favorite falsehood of Trump’s. The approval rating — he usually cites the number of 91 percent — is based on an independent survey conducted in 2013, when Obama was in office. “Veterans strongly endorsed VA health care, with 91 percent offering positive assessments of inpatient care and 92 percent for outpatient care,” according to a news release from the Department of Veterans Affairs announcing the survey results in 2014, when Obama was still in office. A quarterly survey of veterans, obtained by Wisconsin Watch, found that trust in the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department reached a high of about 80 percent under both Trump and Biden. (The range was 55 percent to 80.2 percent under Trump and 75.8 percent to 80.4 percent under Biden.)

“There was a made-up quote, suckers and losers. They made it up. It was in a third-rate magazine that’s failing like many of these magazines. He made that up. He put it in commercials. We’ve notified him. We had 19 people that said, I didn’t say it.”

—Trump

Trump strongly disputes this, but elements have been corroborated.

The original source for this story was a 2020 article in the Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg titled: “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.’” Goldberg, citing “four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day,” reported that Trump canceled a visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 because he did not believe it was important to honor American war dead.

“In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,’” Goldberg wrote. “In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood [during World War I] as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”

However, John R. Bolton, then Trump’s national security adviser and later a sharp critic, said the trip was scrubbed because of weather.

In 2023, John F. Kelly, Trump’s White House chief of staff in 2018 — who had previously not commented on the controversy — issued a statement to CNN that Trump “rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”

Absent a recording, there’s no way to definitively confirm the story. Trump references 19 people who denied it — he used to say 25 — but when we examined their statements, 11 were not even with Trump and most of the others were just his communications staff.

There are numerous examples of Trump suggesting that he thinks soldiers who were wounded or died in combat were losers. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump derided Arizona Sen. John McCain’s legacy as a war hero, saying of his years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

The Washington Post reported that Trump complained bitterly to Kelly that he didn’t understand why Kelly and others in the military treated McCain, who had been tortured as a POW, with such reverence. “Isn’t he kind of a loser?” Trump asked, according to an unnamed official.

“Fifty-one intelligence agents said that the laptop was Russia disinformation. It wasn’t. That came from his son Hunter.”

—Trump

After the New York Post in 2020 said it had obtained emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, more than 50 former senior intelligence officials, including five CIA chiefs, signed a letter saying the release of the emails “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The letter itself artfully did not say the laptop was Russian disinformation — but in the presidential debates Biden used the letter to falsely claim the laptop story was a “Russian plan,” “a bunch of garbage,” “disinformation from the Russians” and “a smear campaign.”

The emails in question have since been confirmed to be from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

“I got them [NATO] to put up hundreds of billions of dollars.”

—Trump

Throughout the 2016 campaign, his presidency and now this election, Trump has demonstrated that he has little notion of how NATO is funded and operates. He repeatedly claimed that other members of the alliance “owed” money to the United States and that they were delinquent in their payments. Then he claimed credit for the money “pouring in” as a result of his jawboning, even though much of the increase in those countries’ contributions had been set under guidelines arranged during the Obama administration.

Since 2006, NATO guidelines have asked each member country to spend at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. In 2014, NATO decided to increase its spending in response to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region, with the goal of reaching 2 percent in each country by 2024. This money does not end up in NATO’s coffers, as Trump often asserts. (Direct funding, for military-related operations, maintenance and headquarters activity, is based on gross national income — the total domestic and foreign output claimed by residents of a country — and is adjusted regularly.)

NATO figures show that the defense expenditures for NATO countries other than the United States have been going up — in a consistent slope — since 2014. As we noted, that’s when NATO decided to boost spending in response to Russia’s seizure of Crimea.

“The secretary general of NATO said Trump did the most incredible job I’ve ever seen.”

—Trump

When he was president, Trump often attributed quotes to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that could not be confirmed, such as: “Secretary Stoltenberg has been maybe Trump’s biggest fan, to be honest with you. He goes around telling — he made a speech the other day. He said, ‘Without Donald Trump, maybe there would be no NATO.’ ” Stoltenberg said no such thing.

“I offered her [then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] 10,000 soldiers or National Guard, and she turned them down.”

—Trump

Trump and his allies have invented the claim that he requested 10,000 troops before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, twisting an offhand comment into a supposed order to the Pentagon. A Colorado judge in November considered testimony on this point and dismissed a Trump aide’s account as “incredible” and “completely devoid of any evidence in the record.”

In 2021, we explored this claim twice and debunked it, each time awarding Four Pinocchios. Then, in late 2022, the Jan. 6 committee released its report and dozens of transcribed interviews that provided new details on the meetings in which Trump claims he requested troops at the Capitol.

That report underscored how Trump has little basis to make this claim, saying that he brought up the issue on at least three occasions but in such vague and obtuse ways that no senior official regarded his words as an order.

“The Unselect Committee, which is basically two horrible Republicans that are all gone now and out of office, and Democrats, all Democrats, they destroyed and deleted all of the information they found because they found out we were right.”

—Trump

This is false. Trump is seizing on House GOP claims that the Jan. 6 committee archive is missing some records. Not only is that claim rejected by the chair of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), but not even Republicans have claimed “all” of the documents are missing. Instead, we are talking about videos and some sensitive materials — and there is no indication any of these materials concerned the alleged troop order.

First, the committee did not include raw videos as part of the permanent records, but instead provided official transcripts of the video interviews. Thompson also said that some materials gathered by the committee contained “law enforcement sensitive operational details and private, personal information that, if released, could endanger the safety of witnesses.” That material was sent to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for archival purposes because the Jan. 6 committee dissolved before a full review of the sensitivity of this material was completed, Thompson wrote.

However, according to special counsel Jack Smith, who is prosecuting Trump, those sensitive materials from the White House and the Secret Service were provided to Trump months ago as part of pretrial discovery.

“Telling the Ukrainian people that … you change the prosecutor, otherwise you’re not getting $1 billion. … That’s quid pro quo.”

—Trump

Biden’s role as vice president in Ukraine, and his son’s involvement there, make for a complex story that we have examined many times. Trump has seized on kernels of truth to build an appearance of scandal that resonated with his supporters. Trump argued that Biden had demanded a quid pro quo from the Ukrainians, but at its core, Trump’s tale was a fiction: There had been no prosecution or investigation of Biden’s son Hunter in this matter, and Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine were coordinated with the State Department and America’s European allies.

Here’s what really happened: During Obama’s second term, Biden was in charge of the Ukraine portfolio, keeping in close touch with the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko. Biden’s brief was to sweet-talk and pressure Poroshenko into making reforms that Ukraine’s Western benefactors wanted to see as part of Ukraine’s escape from Russia’s orbit. But the Americans saw an obstacle to reform in Viktor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor whom the United States viewed as ineffective and beholden to Poroshenko and Ukraine’s corrupt oligarchs.

During a 2015 visit to Ukraine, Biden privately told Poroshenko that loan guarantees would be withheld unless Shokin was replaced. After repeated calls and meetings between the two men over several months, Shokin was removed and the loan guarantees were provided. Trump had it completely backward. Biden was thwarting corruption, not abetting it.

Meanwhile, in 2014, Hunter Biden had joined the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company that was owned by a Ukrainian oligarch, Mykola Zlochevsky. Hunter Biden showed questionable judgment in taking such a position while his father had a high-profile role in U.S.-Ukraine relations, and the possible conflict of interest was well-documented in news reports at the time.

Years after Biden forced the ouster of Shokin, the former prosecutor cried foul, falsely claiming he was removed because he had had Burisma in his sights — a story he peddled to Trump’s allies.

“They moved a high-ranking official, a DOJ, into the Manhattan DA’s office to start that case.”

—Trump

False. There is no evidence that Biden has anything to do with this case, which was brought by Alvin Bragg, a local Democratic prosecutor. Bragg inherited the file from a previous prosecutor, Cyrus Vance Jr. The tenuous connection cited by Trump supporters is that Matthew Colangelo, one of the prosecutors working for Bragg, served as acting associate attorney general, the third-ranking position at the Justice Department, before joining Bragg’s office in late 2022. But prosecutors change jobs all the time — and Bragg’s office had already been working on the case.

“He caused this inflation. I gave him a country with no essentially no inflation.”

—Trump

Higher prices for goods and services would have happened no matter who was elected president in 2020. Inflation initially spiked because of pandemic-related shocks — increased consumer demand as the pandemic eased and an inability to meet this demand because of supply-chain issues, as companies had reduced production when consumers hunkered down during the pandemic. Indeed, inflation rose around the world — with many peer countries doing worse than the United States — because of pandemic-related shocks that rippled across the globe.

“It could be 18, it could be 19 and even 20 million people.”

—Trump

Trump never met a number that he could not double, triple or quadruple. Here, he manages to take a real number — about 5 million migrants arriving during Biden’s presidency — and increase it fourfold. Then he offers a prediction to make it sound even larger.

Here’s the reality: Customs and Border Protection recorded about 9.5 million “encounters” between February 2021, after Biden took office, through April. But that does not mean all those people entered the country illegally. Some people were “encountered” numerous times as they tried to enter the country — and others (more than 4 million of the total) were expelled, mostly because of covid-related rules that have since ended.

CBP has released more than 3.2 million migrants into the United States at the southern border under the Biden administration through April, the Department of Homeland Security said. These numbers, however, do not include “gotaways”— which occur when cameras or sensors detect migrants crossing the border but no one is found or no agents are available to respond. That figure could add an additional 2 million, bringing the total number of migrants arriving during Biden’s presidency to around 5 million.

That’s a big number, but apparently not big enough for Trump.

“What he’s done to the Black population is horrible, including the fact that for 10 years he called them superpredators … in the 1990s. We can’t forget that superpredators was his name, and he called it to them for 10.”

—Trump

This is false. Biden sponsored the 1994 crime bill, now seen as a source of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. But Biden never used the term “superpredators” to describe African Americans.

That was Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in 2016.

“I want absolutely immaculate clean water and I want absolutely clean air. And we had it. We had H2O. We had the best numbers ever.”

—Trump

This is false. As president, Trump cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and got rid of more than 70 environmental regulations, weakening climate protections. The United States in 2020 ranked 24th in the world, according to the authoritative Environmental Performance Index, a project of Yale and Columbia universities. It ranked 16th for air quality and 26th for water and sanitation. An analysis of EPA data released in 2020 found that after improving for the better part of a decade, air quality in the United States is worsening again and could be associated with nearly 10,000 premature deaths. Fine particulate matter in the air that Americans breathe fell by 24 percent between 2009 and 2016. But concentrations increased by 5.5 percent in 2017 and 2018, and premature deaths associated with exposure to the dangerous particles spiked by 9,700 in 2018, the study said.

“The Paris [environmental] accord was going to cost us $1 trillion. And China, nothing, and Russia nothing, and India nothing. It was a rip-off of the United States.”

—Trump

Each country set its own commitments under the Paris accord, so Trump’s comment makes little sense. He could have unilaterally changed the commitments offered by Obama, which is technically allowed under the accord. Indeed, the agreement is nonbinding, so there was nothing in the agreement that stops the United States from building, say, coal plants or gives permission to China or India to build coal plants. Trump’s estimates of the costs came from industry-funded studies that did not consider possible benefits from reducing climate change.

“He wants to raise everybody's taxes by four times.”

—Trump

This is false. For five years, Biden has been consistent in saying he will not raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year, which leaves about the top 2 percent of taxpayers. Biden reiterated this pledge in the budget plan he released earlier this year.

“He gets paid by China. He’s a Manchurian candidate. He gets money from China.”

—Trump

There is no evidence that Biden — who unlike Trump has released decades of tax returns — gets money from China and thus is somehow compromised in his dealings with Beijing.

“I took two tests, cognitive tests. I aced them, both of them.”

Trump

Trump has frequently mischaracterized the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a test aimed at detecting dementia or cognitive decline. He has sometimes suggested that the test included identifying drawings of three animals such as a whale or a tiger. The creator of the test told The Washington Post it has never included the specific combination of animals described by Trump in any of its versions over the years.

“Well, I shouldn’t have to say that [political violence in any form is unacceptable]. But of course I believe that it’s totally unacceptable. And if you would see my statements that I made on Twitter at the time, and also my statement that I made in the Rose Garden, you would say it’s one of the strongest statements you’ve ever seen.”

—Trump

This is revisionist history. In reality, as documented in the House select committee report on the Jan. 6 attack and other reporting, Trump was reluctant to take action to calm the situation, even as his staff pleaded with him to tell the rioters to leave the Capitol. Trump’s tweets were so inadequate, in the view of staff members, that many resolved to resign. Even his children Ivanka and Donald Jr. found the tweets to be inappropriate. Nearly three hours passed before Trump finally told the rioters to “go home.”

As for the video, it had its intended effect — the riot ended — but it came nearly three hours after Trump learned of the attack. The committee’s report suggests Trump issued the video only once it was clear the riot would fail to end the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.

Then, after a video, Trump issued one more tweet that left many aides aghast and prompted many to resign: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

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Analysis | Fact-checking the first Biden-Trump 2024 presidential debate (2024)

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