Fact Checks

Republican Convention Night 3

Biden on Terrorist Killings

Pence twisted the facts when he said Biden “criticized President Trump following those … decisions to rid the world of two terrorist leaders,” Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and that Biden “even opposed the operation that took down Osama bin Laden.”

Biden did not oppose Trump’s decision to undertake a raid to kill al-Baghdadi, though Biden did criticize Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, which Biden argued made the raid to kill al-Baghdadi more dangerous.

Biden Condemned Violence

Blackburn falsely claimed that “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and their radical allies … encourage protests, riots and looting in the streets.” Biden has repeatedly condemned violent protests, riots and looting.

Russia Investigation

Grenell claimed the “Obama-Biden administration secretly launched a surveillance operation on the Trump campaign” without reason. “I saw the Democrats entire case for Russian collusion, and what I saw made me sick to my stomach,” he said.

But multiple independent reports — most recently a bipartisan Senate report — found that there were grounds to investigate whether individuals associated with the Trump campaign were coordinating with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Impeachment Not ‘Illegal’

Stefanik, a New York Republican, criticized the House impeachment of Trump last year as “baseless and illegal.” It’s her opinion that it was “baseless,” but it wasn’t illegal. Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to impeach the president and the Senate the power to remove the president upon conviction of the impeachment charges.

China Travel Restrictions

Pence made misleading, false and dubious claims regarding the U.S. travel restrictions on China. “Before the first case of the coronavirus spread within the United States, the president took unprecedented action, and suspended all travel from China, the second-largest economy in the world,” he said.

Trump didn’t suspend “all travel from China.” The administration’s travel limitations, which took effect on Feb. 2, didn’t apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents or the immediate family members of both. Others who had traveled to mainland China within the prior two weeks were prohibited from entering the U.S.

Military Pay

Stefanik also talked about Trump’s support of the U.S. military, saying he signed “the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade.” It’s true that basic military pay in January increased by 3.1% — the largest increase since 2010, according to the Defense Department.

But, as we have written several times, Trump was following federal law, which sets pay raises by a statutory formula. “Under current law, the pay raise for service members is, by default, set to equal the percentage change in” the employment cost index for private-sector workers’ wages and salaries, as the Congressional Budget Office explained in a 2018 report.

Fracking/Fossil Fuels

Pence falsely claimed that Biden would “abolish fossil fuels” and “end fracking.” But Biden’s climate platform doesn’t go that far.

As we explained on the first night of the convention when similar claims were made, Biden wants to prohibit new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters. That would allow existing permits to continue and wouldn’t affect activity on private land.

Longer-term, Biden is aiming to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050, which would almost certainly require a large reduction in the use of fossil fuels. But that’s decades into the future and it’s not a ban, since carbon capture and other technologies could be paired with those energy sources to meet the net-zero goal.

Abortion

Throughout the night, multiple speakers exaggerated Biden’s position on abortion. Pence said, “Joe Biden, he supports taxpayer funding of abortion right up to the moment of birth.” Sister Deirdre “Dede” Byrne, of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, similarly said that Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, “are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide.”

As we wrote on the first convention night, Biden has said that he backs codifying Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision, into federal law. That ruling guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion before the end of the first trimester, but permits additional regulations or prohibitions on terminating a pregnancy once a fetus becomes viable outside the womb.

Furthermore, killing an infant after it is born is illegal, and Biden does not condone that.

Immigration

Continuing a talking point that has pervaded the Republican convention, Pence falsely claimed “Joe Biden is for open borders.”

As we have written, Biden supports a more open and welcoming immigration policy than the one championed by Trump. In 2013, Biden supported the so-called Gang of Eight immigration bill that would have provided a path to earned citizenship for those then in the country illegally, but which also would have included significant investments in border security (including 350 miles of new fencing). During the campaign, Biden has vowed that he will halt construction of any more border wall, though he has stopped short of saying he would dismantle any fencing constructed during the Trump administration.

The Border Wall

Pence was misleading when he said Trump has “secured our border and built nearly 300 miles of that border wall.”

According to an Aug. 7 story in the San Antonio Express-News, only five miles of new fencing have been constructed. The paper said 260 miles of replacement and secondary walls have been built. The border is about 2,000 miles. The paper said its story was based on data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Trump administration has allocated funding for 400 miles of replacement walls, 57 miles of new secondary fencing and 281 miles of new primary walls, the Express-News said.

School Choice

Pence wrongly claimed that “Biden wants to end school choice.”

As we have written, Biden opposes federal funding going to “for-profit charter schools,” but schools managed by for-profit companies make up only a fraction of charter schools. The current percentage of charter schools that contract with Education Management Organizations, or EMOs — which are for-profit entities hired to manage charter schools — is about 10%, a researcher for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools told us in July.

And while Biden opposes vouchers for private school tuition — the ultimate in school choice for some — he does not oppose students choosing between public schools, magnet schools and high-performing charter schools.

Veterans Choice

Promoting Trump’s actions on behalf of veterans, Pence gave a misleading summary of the evolution of the Veterans Choice Program.

“And after years of scandal that robbed our veterans of the care that you earned in the uniform of the United States, President Trump kept his word again,” he said, referring to excessively long wait times for patients treated at VA hospitals. “We reformed the VA and veterans choice is now available for every veteran in America.”

While Pence makes it seem as though the president was the one to implement changes to improve wait times and health care for veterans, the Veterans Choice Program got its start well before Trump entered office.

The program allowed veterans to seek health care outside the VA system if individuals lived far from VA facilities or had difficulty getting an appointment. Obama signed bipartisan legislation creating the program in August 2014.

This composite image is based on a model of a biblical palace in Israel
An image that appears to show several buildings carved into a mountain has been shared dozens of times on Facebook with a message asking who built the structure, which the author claims can be found in Africa. However, the monument isn’t real; it is a model of what King Herod’s palace could have looked like in biblical times, while the picture itself is a composite. The ruins on which the model is based are found in the Masada National Park in southern Israel and not in Africa.

Facebook is not banning Trump’s election ads
A Facebook post shared more than 400,000 times claims the platform is banning US President Donald Trump from advertising for his 2020 re-election campaign. This is false, the Facebook advertisement library yields thousands of ad results from the Trump campaign, and a company spokeswoman said they are not banning the president.

This photo has been doctored to suggest it shows a Philippine communist party leader in hospital
A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter that claim it shows a Philippine communist party leader in a coma. The claim is false; the photo has been doctored from a stock image of a different person.

Trump ends Republican convention with false and misleading claims
US President Donald Trump misrepresented his record in office as well as the policies that his Democratic opponent Joe Biden has pledged to pursue if elected, capping a Republican National Convention that has been riddled with inaccurate claims.