AP fact check: Fakes and messes in Trump-Biden’s final presidential debate

WASHINGTON – The facts exploded on Thursday night.

The first line of President Donald Trump’s evening, about the deaths of COVID-19, was false and set the tone as he and Democratic rival Joe Biden unleashed a torrent of demands in his latest presidential debate.

Trump has misrepresented the reality of the pandemic in countless familiar ways, insisting against the obvious reality that the pandemic is coming to an end. He also boasted of having “clean” border facilities for migrant children, ignoring the dirty conditions in which they were kept in 2018.

Biden was sometimes selective about coronavirus and other issues, at one point stating that no one under Obamacare has lost private health coverage. Millions do.

A look at how some of the statements on stage in Nashville, Tennessee, compared to the facts:


TRUMP: “We are around the corner. We are around the corner. It is going away.”

THE FACTS: No, the coronavirus is not going away. He is coming back. New cases are growing towards the peak of summer. Deaths are also on the rise.

According to data up to October 21 at Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day continuous average for new daily cases in the U.S. has increased in the past two weeks from more than 42,300 on October 7 to almost 60,000 on October 21.

At that time, the seven-day moving average for new daily deaths in the United States increased from 695 to 757.


TRUMP: “All he does is talk about closings. But forget it. Your Democratic Cuomo governors in New York, you look at what’s going on in California, you look at Pennsylvania, North Carolina. Democrats – all Democrats. They are closed. so tight, and they’re dying. “

BIDEN: “Look at the states that are having this peak in the coronavirus. They are the red states. They are the states of the Midwest or the states of the Upper Midwest. It is where the peak is occurring significantly.”

THE FACTS: None of them are right. Coronavirus is not a red or blue state problem. It is a public health problem that affects people, no matter where they live or what their policy is.

Some Republican-led states that reopened quickly saw an increase in virus cases in the summer and are still struggling to reduce their transmission rates. The Florida test positivity rate is currently around 12%, a level that indicates widespread transmission. South Dakota is approaching 35%.

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Democratic-led states like New York, which were hit hard in the initial wave, closed and reduced their virus transmission rates to very low levels. But now they are seeing recoveries in certain local communities, prompting them to seek new restrictions.

Nevada and Pennsylvania are two states with Democratic governors and currently have high transmission rates of 20% and 10%, respectively, based on a 14-day trend.


TRUMP at the COVID-19 toll in the USA: “So, as you know, 2.2 million people, modeled, were expected to die.”

THE FACTS: This was his first line in the debate and it is false. The death toll in the United States from the pandemic was not expected to be so high.

This extreme projection was just a baseline, if nothing was done to fight the pandemic. Doing nothing was never an option and public health officials did not expect more than 2 million deaths.

Trump often cites the number to put the reality of more than 220,000 deaths in a better light and to try to take credit for reducing projected mortality.

In an April 1 briefing, when Trump and his officials discussed a real projection of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, the president maintained the hope of keeping deaths below 100,000. “I think we are doing better than that.” He repeatedly changed the goal posts to make the massive mortality and infection numbers look better.



TRUMP, talking about children who were separated from their parents on the border of the United States with Mexico: “They are so well looked after; they are in such clean facilities.”

THE FACTS: Not so.

At the height of family separations in 2018, the Border Patrol facilities were overcrowded with migrants kept in precarious conditions, according to surveillance reports and the lawyers responsible for a federal agreement that governs how children are cared for in immigration custody. . The long-term facilities for adults and children were full, which means that the administration kept people at small border stations for much longer than the 72 hours normally allowed by law.

The stations are hardly intended for long-term care. Children did not receive hot meals and families slept on the floor on top of Mylar blankets. Flu and illness have spread and hundreds of children have been kept together without proper care.


TRUMP, on immigrants who are released from custody in the United States to await the end of their cases and are allowed to remain: “They say they come back, less than 1% of people come back. We have to send … the Border Patrol to find them.”

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THE FACTS: This is false. There are far fewer no-shows for immigration hearings among those who are released while awaiting their cases. According to the Justice Department’s Statistics, the majority return to the hearings.



BIDEN: “Not a single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, or under Obamacare; they did not lose their insurance, unless they decided they wanted to do something else ”.

THE FACTS: He’s wrong about Obamacare.

Then President Barack Obama promised that if you liked your health insurance, you could keep it under the Affordable Care Act, but that was not the case with some.

When Obamacare went into effect in 2014, several million people lost individual health plans that no longer met the minimum standards set by law. A reaction forced the White House to offer an alternative solution, but the political damage was done.

Health insurance is such a complicated area that almost any action has the potential for unintended consequences.



TRUMP: The Paris agreement meant that “we would have to spend trillions of dollars … They did a great disservice. They were going to take our business away.”

THE FACTS: The Paris agreement, an international agreement aimed at containing rising global temperatures, is based on voluntary emission reductions. No nation was forced to do anything.



BIDEN: “He talks about the Poor Boys, the last time we were on a stage here, he said – I told them to get down and get ready. Come on. This guy has a big dog whistle like a foghorn.”

THE FACTS: That is not exactly what Trump said and that is not the name of the neo-fascist group.

During the last debate, Trump was asked whether he would condemn white supremacist groups and militias that appeared in some protests in the United States. He said, “Give me a name” and Biden agreed by saying, “Proud boys” to the far-right extremist group that appeared in protests in the Pacific Northwest.

“Proud Boys, step back and stand still,” said Trump. He did not tell them to “be ready”, although it is debatable whether there is a material difference.

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TRUMP on your taxes: “They keep talking about $ 750, which I think is a deposit fee. … Tens of millions of dollars (in income taxes) I prepaid.” In his bank account in China: “I was an entrepreneur in 2013 and closed the account in 2015.”

THE FACTS: Trump is not being honest about his taxes.

The New York Times report, which obtained its tax records, contradicts its claims.

The IRS does not charge taxpayers a registration fee, although tax preparation services do. The $ 750 that Trump paid in 2016 and 2017 in income taxes went to the federal government, not a tax preparation service.

It is unclear what Trump is talking about in advance of paying his taxes, but what matters is what he owed the government. Americans often have their income tax payments deducted from their paychecks. The Times reported that Trump, as of 2010, claimed and received a $ 72.9 million income tax refund, which was at the center of an ongoing audit by the IRS. The Times said a decision against Trump could cost $ 100 million or more.

Nor did Trump close his account at the Chinese bank, according to Alan Garten, a lawyer at the Trump company. He told the Times that the account remains open, although the company’s China office has been inactive since 2015.



TRUMP: “Joe received $ 3.5 million from Russia. And he came through Putin because he was a close friend of the former Moscow mayor and was the mayor of Moscow’s wife. … His family received $ 3.5 million. . Someday you’re going to have to explain why. “

THE FACTS: There is no evidence of this. Trump is falsely featuring a recent report by Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who investigated Biden’s son Hunter and his business in Ukraine.

The report did not claim that Joe Biden himself received $ 3.5 million or that Russian President Vladimir Putin had anything to do with such a payment. The report also does not claim that Hunter Biden pocketed the money himself. The report said the amount went to an investment firm that he co-founded. Hunter Biden’s lawyer said in a statement to reporters that his client was not interested and was not the founder of the company.


Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Eric Tucker, Josh Boak, Stephen Braun, Michael Balsamo, Amanda Seitz and David Klepper contributed to this report

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