CNN hosted a town hall with 2024 Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump on Wednesday night in New Hampshire.
Over the course of the night, Trump took questions from New Hampshire Republicans and undeclared voters who plan to vote in the 2024 GOP presidential primary about a wide range of issues.
Here is a fact check of some of Trump’s other claims in the speech.
Just minutes after the town hall began, Trump claimed the 2020 election was “rigged.”
Facts First: This is Trump’s regular lie. He lost the 2020 election to Biden fair and square, 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. Biden earned more than 7 million more votes than Trump did. Trump’s own campaign and senior officials in his administration found no evidence for his claims of widespread fraud.
From CNN’s Tara Subramaniam
Talking about the upcoming 2024 presidential election, Trump said “I hope we’re going to have very honest elections. We should have voter ID.”
Facts First: It’s misleading at best for Trump to claim voter ID doesn’t currently exist in US election.
There are several situations in which casting a ballot without showing an ID would be legal, specifically in the 15 states (plus Washington, DC) that rely on other forms of voter verification. In the rest of the states, voters are required to present some form of identification before casting ballots.
It is true that most Democrats have been against stricter voter-ID laws in the past, but on grounds that these laws could disenfranchise voters who may not have access to necessary identification – not in order to illegally obtain votes.
Republicans have wielded this Democratic position on voter ID laws to paint Democrats as complicit in election fraud despite the fact that voter fraud is exceedingly rare – and that even states that don’t require ID have other methods to prevent fraud, like signature checks.
From CNN’s Tara Subramaniam
Intelligence agents impact on the election
As part of his argument that the 2020 election was “rigged,” Trump claimed 51 intelligence agents “made a 16-point difference” in the outcome of the election.
Facts First: There is no evidence for this.
Trump appears to have been referring to a letter signed by former intelligence agents weeks before the 2020 election. The letter stated that the release of emails purportedly belonging to then-candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, which had been generating sensational stories in right-wing media, had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
No proof of Russian involvement in the release of those emails has emerged, and Republicans have argued that the letter helped discredit negative stories about the Biden family just before the election. But there’s also no proof that the letter swayed the outcome of the election.
From CNN’s Curt Devine
Security on January 6
Former President Donald Trump tried to blame then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the violence on January 6, 2021 – when his own supporters stormed the US Capitol, claiming she was “in charge” of security that day.
Facts First: This is false. The speaker of the House is not in charge of Capitol security. That’s the responsibility of the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the US Capitol Police and approves requests for National Guard assistance.
Trump’s former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller also told lawmakers that he was never given a formal order by Trump to have 10,000 troops ready to be sent to the Capitol on January 6. “There was no direct, there was no order from the president,” Miller said.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent an email saying the National Guard would be present to “protect pro Trump people” in the lead up to the US Capitol insurrection, according to the report released by the January 6 committee.
From CNN’s Zachary Cohen
Gas prices and energy independence
Trump claimed gas prices are higher under Biden than under his administration, and that Biden ended US energy independence.
Facts First: Trump’s claims about gas prices are misleading. Trump claimed Wednesday that he got gas prices down to $1.87 – and “even lower” – but they increased to $7, $8 or even $9 under Biden. While the price of a gallon of regular gas did briefly fall to $1.87 (and lower) during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the national average for regular gas on Trump’s last day in office, January 20, 2021, was much higher than that – $2.393 per gallon, according to data provided to CNN by the American Automobile Association. On Thursday, the national average for gas was $3.53, per AAA data, not $6, $7 or $8. California, the state with the highest prices as usual, had an average of $4.8, per AAA.
Trump’s claim that Biden shut down American energy is false even if Trump was talking specifically about non-renewable energy. US crude oil production in 2022 was the second-highest on record, behind only production in Trump-era 2019, and production in early 2023 has been near record highs. US production of dry natural gas set a new record in 2022. So did US exports of crude oil and petroleum products.
Biden has also approved some significant fossil fuel projects including the controversial Willow oil drilling project Alaska, and his administration outpaced Trump’s when it came to approving oil and gas drilling permits in Biden’s first two years in office.
From CNN’s Ella Nilsen
Phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state
Asked about the now-notorious phone call he made to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and staff about election results, Trump claimed “I didn’t ask them to find anything.”
Facts First: This is a brazenly false claim, as CNN and other organizations obtained recordings of the call, in which Trump repeatedly suggests that Georgia election officials should be able to find thousands of votes and fraudulent ballots. Specifically, Trump said, “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” one more than he lost by.
Trump also told Raffensberger, a GOP official, “We think that if you check the signatures – a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County you’ll find at least a couple of hundred thousand of forged signatures of people who have been forged.”
It’s worth noting that Trump’s assertions of forged signatures and missing or miscounted votes were also baseless. The state certified its election results three times under Raffensperger’s leadership and found no mass voter fraud.
From CNN’s Tara Subramaniam
January 6 violence
Trump asserted “a couple” of the January 6 rioters “probably got out of control,” comparing the insurrection to left-leaning protests that turned violent in other cities.
Facts First: This statement is false. Hundreds of rioters have been charged with violence toward police on January 6 and Trump downplaying the violence and equivocating the insurrection with social justice protests fails to recognize the severity of the attack on the Capitol.
The January 6 riot of Trump-supporters who overran the Capitol has resulted in the largest law enforcement response in modern history – because of the sheer amount of violence on the ground, especially toward police, that day.
The number of rioters on January 6 who’ve been charged with violence toward police is in the hundreds.
According to the Justice Department this week, 346 people face federal charges for assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or other employees. That includes more than 100 people charged with using a weapon or causing serious injury to an officer. About five dozen have pleaded guilty to felony charges for these types of crimes.
And the FBI is still seeking information to identify more than 220 others who may have committed violent crimes on the Capitol grounds.
Even Trump-appointed federal judges have countered claims that left-leaning rioters in Portland, for instance, acted similarly to the pro-Trump crowd on January 6.
Judge Trevor McFadden wrote when handling a January 6 rioter’s case in 2021: “Although both Portland and January 6 rioters attacked federal buildings, the Portland defendants primarily attacked at night, meaning that they raged against a largely vacant courthouse. In contrast, the January 6 rioters attacked the Capitol in broad daylight. And many entered it.”
And another federal judge in DC, Carl Nichols, wrote: “The Portland rioters’ conduct, while obviously serious, did not target a proceeding prescribed by the Constitution and established to ensure a peaceful transition of power. Nor did the Portland rioters, unlike those who assailed America’s Capitol in 2021, make it past the buildings’ outer defenses.”
Police on January 6
Trump said that the police officer who shot pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt was a “thug” who “went on television to brag about the fact that he killed her.”
Facts First: The US Capitol Police officer involved in the shooting, Lt. Michael Byrd, was defending the Speaker’s Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber in the Capitol building, during the riot. Babbitt’s fatal shooting occurred as a crowd tried to push through the Speaker’s Lobby doorway while the House was in still in session, according to the House select committee investigating January 6.
The Capitol Police declined to pursue any disciplinary action against Byrd, saying that they had “determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy.” The Justice Department also said they would not prosecute Byrd, saying there was “insufficient evidence” to support a criminal case.
Byrd later did an interview with “NBC Nightly News,” where he said that he acted because “there was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress.” Byrd said during the interview that he came forward publicly after being the focus of vitriol in right-wing circles.
From CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz
E. Jean Carroll
A day after a Manhattan federal jury found Trump sexually abused and defamed the writer E. Jean Carroll, Trump claimed that the jury in the civil trial found he did not rape her and said he “didn’t do anything else either.”
“They said he didn’t rape her, and I didn’t do anything else either,” Trump said.
Facts First: This statement requires more context. While the jury did not find that Carroll had proven rape, it did find that she proved Trump committed sexual abuse, sufficient to hold him liable for battery.
Carroll alleged Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s and then later defamed her when he denied her claim.
In the civil suit, the jury had to determine whether Carroll’s legal team proved that Trump committed battery against Carroll by a preponderance of the evidence.
While it did not determine that Carroll’s team had proven rape – the state’s law says that a person is liable for rape when a person forces sexual intercourse with another person without their consent – it did find that they proved Trump committed sexual abuse.
The jury had been instructed that a person is liable for sexual abuse when they subject another person without consent to sexual contact, which under New York law means “any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party.”
From CNN’s Nicki Brown
Trump claimed that inflation under President Biden has been the highest level in 52 years.
Facts First: This is false. The inflation rate has been high by historical standards but was not close to a half-century high.
Last June, the year-over-year inflation rate hit its highest level since late 1981, 9.1%, a surge that was caused by a variety of factors, including the war in Ukraine, the global pandemic and its effect on consumer behavior, and supply chain disruptions. But about 41 years does not round to 52 years, and more importantly, year-over-year inflation has now declined for 10 straight months, hitting 4.9% in April, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
From CNN’s Alicia Wallace
Other presidents and records
Trump claimed that other presidents took records with them when they left the White House – including Barack Obama, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
“The Presidential Records Act is not criminal. I took the documents. I’m allowed to. You know who else took them? Obama took them, Nixon took them. Reagan took them.”
Facts First: It is not true that past presidents took documents after they left office, as the National Archives and Records Administration itself pointed out in a statement in 2022. In reality, NARA was granted custody of the presidential records of former presidents (beginning with Ronald Reagan) as soon as these presidents left office, as required by the Presidential Records Act. In addition, it was NARA, not those presidents, that moved those documents out of the nation’s capital to NARA-managed temporary archival facilities near where their permanent presidential libraries would be built.
After Trump began making these false claims last year, NARA issued an October 2022 statement saying that it gained physical and legal custody of the records from Obama, Clinton, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush “when those presidents left office.” It said of the temporary facilities to which the documents were moved: “All such temporary facilities met strict archival and security standards, and have been managed and staffed exclusively by NARA employees. Reports that indicate or imply that those Presidential records were in the possession of the former Presidents or their representatives, after they left office, or that the records were housed in substandard conditions, are false and misleading.”
In other words, there is no equivalence between how Trump handled presidential documents and how those previous presidents did. In Trump’s case, the presidential documents found at Mar-a-Lago, including documents marked classified, were in Trump’s possession despite numerous attempts by both NARA and the Justice Department to get them back.
In an April 24 statement, NARA General Counsel Gary M. Stern clarified that NARA sent staff members to the White House in the final weeks of the Trump Administration “to assist with the move of the physical records (including artifacts), in coordination with the DOD team that NARA employed to transport the records from the White House complex to the National Archives.”
Stern noted that the assistance provided was in line with what NARA had done for the three previous Presidential transitions.
Finally, Trump is correct that the Presidential Records Act is not a criminal law. Yet the Justice Department has made clear Trump is being investigated because of classified records that the NARA found in boxes that he returned a year after he left office, and his subsequent actions. The DOJ’s criminal investigation continues to focus on the possible mishandling of national security information and federal records, as well as possible attempts by Trump or others to obstruct justice after the criminal investigation became known.
From CNN’s Tara Subramaniam
Aid to Ukraine
Trump claimed that the US has provided $171 billion “so far” to Ukraine in its war against Russia, while the European Union cumulatively has given $20 billion in aid. He also claimed that the US is “giving away so much” that “we don’t have ammunition for ourselves right now.”
Fact First: Both assertions are false. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine last February, the US has provided Ukraine $36.9 billion in military aid. And while some US and European weapon stockpiles have been depleted, the claim that the US does not have ammunition is false.
The US military and defense industry are planning to increase production of critical ammunition being sent to Ukraine to fill US stocks. The US Army is planning a 500% increase in 155mm artillery shells, a roughly 33% increase in Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) surface-to-surface medium-range missiles a year, doubling production of Javelin anti-tank missiles, and increasing production of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to a minimum of 60 a month.
From CNN’s Haley Britzkey
Classification of documents
Trump claimed that the classified documents from the White House were “automatically declassified” when he took them to Mar-a-Lago.
Facts First: There is no evidence to back up this assertion. Trump and his team have not provided any proof that Trump actually conducted some sort of broad declassification of the documents that ended up at Mar-a-Lago – and, so far, his lawyers notably have not argued in their court filings that Trump did so.
The Justice Department said in an August 2022 court filing that Trump’s representatives never asserted that documents had been declassified—not in January 2022 when they voluntarily turned over 15 boxes that included 184 unique documents with classification markings, nor in June 2022 when Trump’s team responded to a subpoena by returning another batch that included 38 additional unique documents with classification markings.
In addition, 18 former top Trump administration officials, including two former White House chiefs of staff who spoke on the record, told CNN at the time that they never heard of a standing Trump declassification order when they were serving in the administration and that they now believe the claim is false. The former officials used words like “ludicrous,” “ridiculous” and “bullsh*t.”
“Total nonsense,” said one person who served as a senior White House official. “If that’s true, where is the order with his signature on it? If that were the case, there would have been tremendous pushback from the Intel Community and DoD, which would almost certainly have become known to Intel and Armed Services Committees on the Hill.”
From CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz
Trump claimed that he had finished his promised wall on the border with Mexico.
“I did finish the wall. I built a wall,” he said. “I built hundreds of miles of wall, and I finished it, and then I said we have to build some more.”
Facts First: It’s not true that Trump finished the border wall. According to an official “Border Wall Status” report written by US Customs and Border Protection two days after Trump left office, about 458 miles of wall had been completed under Trump – but about 280 more miles that had been identified for wall construction had not been completed. The report said that at the time, just 52 miles of new wall had been constructed in locations where no barriers previously existed.
The report, provided to CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez, said that, of those 280 miles left to go, about 74 miles were “in the pre-construction phase and have not yet been awarded, in locations where no barriers currently exist,” and that 206 miles were “currently under contract, in place of dilapidated and outdated designs and in locations where no barriers previously existed.”
From CNN’s Daniel Dale