In the U.S. presidential contest, Republican Donald Trump is making claim after claim about the life and times of his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but fact checkers are finding that many of them bear little resemblance to reality. Clinton has also come under some criticism from fact checkers.
On Wednesday, as Trump unleashed a scathing attack on his opponent in a New York speech, he contended that Clinton personally benefited from her four years as the top U.S. diplomat, accepting a $58,000 gold, sapphire and diamond necklace from Brunei's queen.
But several fact checkers noted that she accepted the gift on behalf of the U.S. government and turned it over to the agency that routinely stores such largesse from other countries. Gifts large and small are exchanged by government officials from across the globe when they meet in national capitals.
Middle East turmoil
Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul making his first run for elected office, accused Clinton of "almost single-handedly" destabilizing the Middle East, blaming her for the 2011 Western invasion of Libya that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddhafi that "handed the country over" to Islamic State and a "disastrous strategy" of announcing ahead of time the 2011 departure date for U.S. military troops from Iraq.
The Associated Press said these Trump claims "make only passing acquaintance with reality." The news service noted that Clinton supported a NATO-led attack against Gaddhafi's regime, but that there was no U.S. invasion. AP said Islamic State jihadists control only a small part of Libya and that the U.S. troop departure date in Iraq was set in 2008 by former President George W. Bush. Clinton served in the administration of President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013.
Trump, as he often does at campaign rallies, claimed that he started his business career with a "small loan" from his father and that he is now worth $10 billion. Several fact checkers noted that the loan was for $1 million, that he received an inheritance that may have totaled $40 million and that he benefited from loan guarantees from his father. Trump's net worth is also in dispute, with numerous U.S. financial publications casting doubt on the $10 billion figure and saying he is worth much less.
Trump claimed that the United States is the "highest-taxed nation in the world," when in fact it is one of the lowest among developed and large emerging-market economies. He said the U.S. trade deficit with China soared 40 percent during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, more than twice the actual figure, even as trade deficits are more the result of decisions by businesses and consumers in far-flung countries rather than policies advanced by diplomatic figures like Clinton.
Clinton, seeking to become the first female U.S. president, has not escaped rebukes from fact-checkers either. After her attack on Trump's business career earlier this week, the fact checkers noted that Clinton had correctly quoted Trump as saying that having a low minimum wage "is not a bad thing for this country." But the fact checkers say she then failed to note that Trump since has changed his mind and says that he does not know how someone can live on the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
The fact checkers also say she was exaggerating in claiming that Trump would sell off some of the country's most cherished historical sites, such as the Statue of Liberty in the New York harbor, to cut the country's national debt. Trump has promised to create robust economic growth that would cut the country's $19 trillion in debt.