Fact-Checking the First Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton Debate

A closer look at the candidates’ claims and counter-claims, many of them tangled up in the most contentious moments of the debate.

The Three Biggest Non-Facts From the Debate

Iraq War

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton: “Well, I hope the fact checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard. Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump: “Wrong.”

Clinton: “That is absolutely—”

Trump: “Wrong.”

Clinton: “Proved over and over again.”

Trump: “Wrong.”

Clinton: “He actually advocated for the actions we took in Libya and urged that Gaddafi be taken out after actually doing some business with him one time.”

Fact check: Trump has made a central theme of his campaign that he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq while Clinton supported it. But when asked whether he supported going to war in Iraq in a 2002 appearance on Howard Stern’s radio show, Trump said, “Yeah, I guess so.”

In a 2004 interview in Esquire magazine, he said “all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing!”

As a senator from New York, Clinton voted in 2002 to give President George W. Bush the authority to wage the Iraq war.

Clinton has said she wouldn’t have voted for the war if she’d known at the time what the world learned later, that Iraq didn’t have the weapons of mass destruction claimed by the Bush administration.

Jobs

Trump: “Under my plan, I'll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That's going to be a job creator like we haven't seen since Ronald Reagan.”

Fact check: Trump is echoing promises made on Sept. 15 to create 25 million jobs in a decade—that would be more than three times as many as created since 2006. The most jobs ever created over such a period were the 24.4 million added in the 10 years ending in March 2001, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The worst stretch was the decade through March 2010, when about 2 million jobs were lost.

Trade With Mexico

Trump: “When we sell into Mexico, there's a tax. When they sell—an automatic 16 percent approximately—when they sell into us, there's no tax. It's a defective agreement. It's been defective for a long time, many years. But the politicians haven't done anything about it.”

Fact check: Trump suggests that Mexico slaps a high tax on U.S. imports, but a study from the Peterson Institute in 2014 talks about how Mexico lowered its taxes more than the U.S., via NAFTA, to practically zero, so the U.S. effectively gained more via the negotiation.

“Average U.S. tariff on imports from Mexico was 4.3 percent, while the average Mexican tariff on imports from the United States was 12.4 percent,” the report said. “Since both tariff averages went to zero fairly quickly, the country ‘giving away,’ as measured by tariff concessions, was Mexico, not the United States.”

Ford in Mexico

Trump: “So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small-car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio, they are all leaving.”

Fact check: Ford is moving its small-car production to Mexico, but Ford CEO Mark Fields has said that the company is cutting “zero” jobs in the U.S.

NAFTA

Trump: “You go to New England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacturing is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere but certainly ever signed in this country.”

Fact check: NAFTA had a modest effect on manufacturing jobs. An Economic Policy Institute analysis says manufacturing jobs dropped in the 1990s from 17.9 million to 17.6 million.

Trump: NAFTA Is Worst Trade Deal Ever Signed

National Debt

Clinton: She said her plan “will not add a penny to the debt and your plans would add $5 trillion to the debt.”

Fact check: The cost of Clinton’s tax plan may add to the national debt. Her tax and spending plans would increase federal tax revenue by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years on net, while they'd increase spending by about $1.65 trillion, according to the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Her plan would also create about $50 billion in additional interest costs over the decade, for a total 10-year deficit of $200 billion, the CRFB found. Those figures were based on a “static” analysis—before accounting for her plans' effects on the larger economy.

DNC Hack

Clinton: “But Putin is playing a really tough, long game here. And one of the things he's done is to let loose cyber attackers to hack into government files, to hack into personal files, hack into the Democratic National Committee. And we recently have learned that this is one of their preferred methods of trying to wreak havoc and collect information.”

Fact check: U.S. officials and a Clinton spokesman earlier this month said experts have concluded Russia was behind the hack. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. At the same time, he said the hack was a public service.

The Fed

Trump: “We're in a big, fat ugly bubble and we better be awfully careful and we have a Fed that's doing political things. This Janet Yellen of the Fed, the Fed is doing political by keeping the interest rates at this level and, believe me, the day Obama goes off and he leaves and he goes out to the golf course for the rest of his life to play golf, when they raise interest rates, you're going to see some very bad things happen because the Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.”

Fact check: Trump was reiterating an argument that low interest rates have inflated the stock market, and turmoil could result when rates are increased. That doesn't hold up to past experience: markets were calm when Fed Chair Yellen and her colleagues raised rates in December, moving them above near-zero for the first time since the end of 2008.

Yellen reiterated during a press conference in Washington last week that “I can say, emphatically, that partisan politics plays no role in our decisions about the appropriate stance of monetary policy.”

Trump: We Are in a Big Fat Ugly Bubble

Climate Change

Clinton: “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real.”

Trump: “I did not. I do not say that.”

Fact check: Trump has a history of questioning climate change. After Clinton accused Trump of denying climate change, he dismissed the suggestion, saying it wasn't true. Yet long before he entered the presidential race, in 2012, Trump tweeted this:

Trump has since distanced himself from the comment by saying he likes to joke about the China connection, though he consistently describes the campaign to combat climate change as a money-maker.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE