Fact-Checking Night 3 of the Republican National Convention


— Vice President Mike Pence

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has offered shifting accounts of how he counseled then President Barack Obama. It is clear that he was more skeptical than most other Obama officials about the May 2011 operation that killed the Osama bin Laden. But saying that he opposed the raid outright is at best a selective interpretation of the available evidence.

In the months after Mr. Obama ordered the risky mission, Mr. Biden said he had been skeptical of the unconfirmed intelligence showing that bin Laden was hiding in a compound in Pakistan. In January 2012, he recalled having told Mr. Obama in a final Situation Room meeting when top officials were polled on their positions: “Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go.” But he implied that his view was subject to change, saying that more work should be done “to see if he’s there.”

A few months later, he added more detail to his account, saying that he spoke privately with Mr. Obama after that Situation Room meeting and told him, “Follow your instincts, Mr. President.” At the time, Mr. Biden recounted, “I knew he was going to go,” thus indicating that he was implicitly endorsing Mr. Obama’s decision to act.

In 2015, Mr. Biden offered a new account of his private exchange with Mr. Obama after the meeting. “I told him my opinion, that I thought he should go, but follow his own instincts,” Mr. Biden said. “Imagine if I had said in front of everyone, ‘Don’t go,’ or ‘Go,’ and his decision was a different decision. It undercuts that relationship.” That analysis conflicts with his first account of telling Mr. Obama to delay the operation.

Subsequent books by former Obama officials describe Mr. Biden as skeptical of the intelligence and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recounted that “Biden’s primary concern was the political consequences of failure.” Mr. Biden’s own 2017 memoir does not mention the bin Laden raid, and Mr. Obama has not commented on the matter.

— Vice President Mike Pence

Mr. Pence was making a point about the need to support law enforcement as protests occurred around the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. But he failed to mention that the man charged with killing Mr. Underwood was an Air Force sergeant linked to a far-right anti-government movement. The suspect, Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, had expressed his allegiance to the boogaloo, an extremist ideology that seeks to bring about a second civil war to overthrow the United States government. F.B.I. officials said that Sergeant Carrillo had traveled to Oakland to “kill cops.”

In its news release announcing the charges against Sergeant Carrillo and another man who participated, a Justice Department official said, “The Department of Justice stands in support of all Americans exercising their First Amendment rights to peaceable assembly and speech but we stand firmly against anyone who seeks to hijack the protests with acts of violence and destruction.”

— Vice President Mike Pence

The phrase “energy independence” suggests that the United States does not depend on energy imports, but the United States still relies significantly on imports of oil and natural gas.

It is false to suggest that Mr. Biden would “end fracking.” Mr. Biden’s climate change plan would end new leases for hydraulic fracturing or fracking, for oil and gas on federal lands, but does not ban existing fracking on public lands or new or existing fracking on private land.

It is accurate that Mr. Biden is likely to reinstate many of the Obama-era climate change regulations that were rolled back or weakened by the Trump administration, including rules reining in greenhouse pollution from coal-fired power plants and vehicles. At the time those rules were put forth, the federal government’s cost-benefit analyses concluded that they would have a net benefit on the economy, but studies have also shown that they could disproportionately affect some regions and sectors, particularly coal mining.

— Vice President Mike Pence

Mr. Pence is right that the economy has gained back 9.3 million jobs through July. It is important to note that is only about 40 percent of the more than 22 million lost between February and April, though the rebound has actually marked a faster snapback than what many economists and analysts anticipated. It is probably unreasonable to pin those job gains squarely on Mr. Trump’s pre-pandemic policies: Many factors, including the government’s small business loans and broader pandemic relief package, have helped the labor market to recover.

— Vice President Mike Pence

The race to develop a vaccine is well underway, but it is uncertain whether it will produce results by the end of the year. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has repeatedly said it will likely be the end of 2020 or the start of 2021 before it is clear whether clinical trials were successful. Some researchers working on vaccine candidates have said getting data this year will be a real feat.

Mr. Trump has been pushing hard for a faster timetable. According to two people with knowledge of the discussion, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who sits on the coronavirus task force, suggested in a July 30 meeting with congressional leaders that the administration would likely grant emergency authorization for a vaccine before the end of phase three clinical trials in the United States.

Asked about that remark, a Treasury Department spokesman said that Mr. Mnuchin believes vaccine approval is wholly up to the Food and Drug Administration. Nonetheless, the promotion of overly optimistic scenarios by Mr. Trump and his aides has fostered deep concern that the White House will try to influence the vaccine approval process for political reasons.

And a vaccine approval is also only the first step. Even a safe, effective vaccine is useless unless it can be administered widely, and experts have begun to worry that many Americans will be unwilling to take the vaccine, or be unable to access it. A greenlit vaccine also won’t necessarily make people impervious to infection or even mild disease, which means that masking and distancing will likely need to continue for some time yet.

— Vice President Mike Pence

Mr. Biden has a different concept of “school choice” than the Trump administration. He opposes the administration’s support for voucher programs that use taxpayer funds to pay for private school tuition, according to a spokesman, but he supports continuing federal funding for high-performing public charter schools.

The Trump administration has in fact not succeeded in implementing its voucher programs because they have beemn blocked by Congress.

— Vice President Mike Pence

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued emergency use authorization that will expand the use of antibody-rich blood plasma to treat coronavirus patients. The decision will broaden use of a treatment that has already been administered to more than 70,000 patients.

The data suggests that the treatment is most likely to benefit patients less than 80 years old who receive plasma with a high level of virus-fighting antibodies within three days of diagnosis. But the extent of the benefits was exaggerated during a White House news conference. Research showed that about seven in 100 patients would survive because of the plasma treatment — not 35 in 100, as President Trump and other administration officials said. Dr. Stephen Hahn, who heads the Food and Drug Administration, later corrected his assertions of the benefits of the treatment, saying he misspoke.

Some experts have also sounded a note of caution, noting the data is preliminary and the results need to be verified by randomized clinical trials.

— Vice President Mike Pence

Mr. Biden has not publicly committed to repealing all of the tariffs that Mr. Trump imposed on more than $360 billion of Chinese products in the course of the trade war. Mr. Biden actually appears reluctant to commit either way to fully keeping or eliminating the tariffs, and his aides have said that he plans to evaluate the tariffs once in office based on their impact on the American middle class. Earlier this month, Mr. Biden had a confusing exchange about the tariffs with NPR reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro. Mr. Biden appeared to respond “no,” when asked if he would keep the tariffs on China. The Trump campaign seized on the statement to say Mr. Biden would “scrap tariffs without any concessions.” But an aide said that Mr. Biden was actually responding to an earlier assertion by the reporter, that Mr. Trump’s stance was a “good one, to counter China’s influence.”

— Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence is taking Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s comments out of context. In a July discussion, the prominent liberal activist Ady Barkan asked Mr. Biden whether he would support redirecting “some of the funding for police into social services, mental health counseling and affordable housing.”

Mr. Biden agreed and listed his proposals to increase funding for mental health clinics, more federal oversight of police departments, and restricting military equipment sold to the police.

“But do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” Mr. Barkan asked.

“Yes, absolutely,” Mr. Biden responded.

The published version of that conversation edited out some of Mr. Biden’s remarks that made his positions clearer. In the full version, provided to The Times by the Biden campaign, Mr. Biden emphasized that his proposals were “not the same as getting rid of or defunding all the police” and repeated that he believed federal grants to departments should be “conditioned.”

— Vice President Mike Pence

The United States has been a net exporter of coal since at least 1949. It became a net exporter of natural gas in 2017 for the first time in 59 years. In September 2019, it briefly became a net exporter of petroleum for the first time since monthly records began being kept in 1973, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency projected that the United States could become a sustained net exporter of oil by late 2020 or 2021.

— Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell

When American surveillance aimed at gathering foreign intelligence information picks up information about an American — either because a target is speaking with an American, or because foreign targets are talking to other foreigners about an American — it is routine, for privacy reasons, to mask that American’s name in intelligence reports. It is lawful for officials to ask to “unmask” the names when it is necessary to understand the intelligence report.

Documents that Mr. Grenell declassified earlier this year show that, during the presidential transition in 2017, someone in Mr. Biden’s office requested to know who an American was whose name had been redacted in an intelligence report. It turned out to be Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s incoming national security adviser.

The request logged under Mr. Biden’s name came on January 12, not “three weeks before the inauguration” as Mr. Grenell said. And contrary to Mr. Grenell’s claim that Mr. Biden made this request, it could instead have been an adviser working in his office, because such requests are logged in the name of senior officials. Rather than a request to unmask Mr. Flynn, as Mr. Grenell put it, by definition the request was instead to learn who the unnamed person was.

— Vice President Mike Pence

Hospitals across the nation experienced ventilator shortages when inundated with coronavirus cases in the spring, prompting local leaders to plead with the federal government for assistance.

President Trump initially expressed skepticism about surging demand for hospital supplies. In March, for example, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York openly called for tens of thousands of ventilators from the federal government, Mr. Trump questioned the volume of the request. Some hospitals resorted to pairing two patients on one ventilator — a desperate and risky measure to alleviate shortages.

— Vice President Mike Pence

In his 2014 book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, the former Pentagon chief and C.I.A. director Robert M. Gates offered a scathing assessment of how the Obama administration handled the war in Afghanistan. Of Mr. Biden in particular, Mr. Gates said, “I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades. ”

But Mr. Pence did not mention what Mr. Gates had written immediately before his criticism of Mr. Biden. “He’s a man of integrity, incapable of hiding what he really thinks, and one of those rare people you know you could turn to for help in a personal crisis,” Mr. Gates wrote of the then-vice president.

— Vice President Mike Pence

Mr. Trump did not suspend all travel from China in his Jan. 31 announcement. There were notable exceptions to the ban. For example, American citizens and permanent residents were allowed to enter the United States even if they had been in China within 14 days before arrival. Close family members of American citizens were also allowed to enter the United States. Moreover, the travel ban had only a limited effect in stopping or lessening the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. The ban was porous — a New York Times analysis of data determined that nearly 40,000 travelers arrived in the United States on direct flights from China in the two months after Mr. Trump imposed his ban. Scientists have also found that the strain of the virus that began circulating in New York around mid-February was one that spread earlier in Europe, indicating it was carried by travelers from there. In any case, even with Mr. Trump’s partial travel ban on China, the United States has had one of the worst pandemic outcomes in the world, with deaths estimated to be as high as 200,000, about a quarter of the total worldwide.

— Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law

It is true that women’s unemployment hit the lowest level since roughly World World II before the pandemic, and it is also true that women took more than 70 percent of jobs added to the economy last year. Ms. Trump is right that women gained more than 4 million jobs between November 2016 and early 2020, but that was pre-pandemic: Since February, they have lost all of those jobs, and their employment is back at 2015 levels, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

— Vice President Mike Pence

The Veterans Choice Program was created in 2014 after the scandal of hidden waiting lists at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals. Under the program, veterans who do not live within 40 miles of a department hospital or face wait times of more than 30 days for care could seek private health care funded by the government. In 2018, Mr. Trump signed a law that overhauled and consolidated Veterans Choice and other existing programs into a single Veterans Community Care Program. Under new rules, veterans who must drive for at least 30 minutes to one of the department’s facilities will be able to opt for private care, a less stringent requirement for many veterans.

— Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence

The day that an accord went into effect in 2016 to limit Iran’s nuclear program, as brokered by the United States and other world powers, the Obama administration loaded a plane with $400 million in several currencies as a first installment of money long owed to Tehran. The money was part of $1.7 billion in assets, including interest, that the United States froze after Iran’s revolution in 1979 and that had been intended to pay for military hardware that the former shah in Tehran had purchased but that was never delivered.

— Richard Grenell, the former acting Director of National Intelligence

Richard Grenell is trying to assert that President Trump always shows support for protests against authoritarian governments. Mr. Trump, who often praises dictators, has failed to express support for some of the most prominent such protests of the last three years. The most notable example is that of the pro-democracy protests that began in June 2019 in Hong Kong.

Mr. Trump told Xi Jinping, the leader of China, on a telephone call that June that he and his aides would refrain from commenting on the protests if the Chinese government agreed to continue with trade talks, according to administration officials. John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, wrote in his new book that he heard Mr. Trump say of the Hong Kong protests that month: “I don’t want to get involved,” and, “We have human-rights problems too.”

Mr. Bolton also wrote that Mr. Trump refused to issue a White House statement on the 30th anniversary of the Chinese military’s massacre of pro-democracy protesters around Tiananmen Square.

“Who cares about it?” Mr. Trump said. “I’m trying to make a deal.”

Mr. Trump has made a few comments on the protests in Belarus, where demonstrators say Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the authoritarian leader, subverted a presidential election this month. But Mr. Trump did express support on Twitter in January for anti-government protests in Iran. The message appeared on his account in English and Farsi.

— Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law

While some progressive Democrats do want to “defund the police,” Mr. Biden is not among them. Since the police killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day, Mr. Biden has made calls for systemic changes to the country’s criminal justice system and proposed changes to police tactics. But he has said he opposes cutting resources for law enforcement — rather, he has proposed new funding for community policing, which a spokesman said would be conditioned on departments implementing reforms. He reinforced this sentiment on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, taking pains to set himself apart from the left wing of his party. “Most cops are good,” Mr. Biden said then, “but the fact is, the bad ones need to be identified and prosecuted.”

— Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence

Mr. Trump and his supporters — like Mr. Grenell, who Mr. Trump installed as the nation’s top intelligence official from February to May without Senate confirmation to be in that role — have sought to portray him as a victim of the counterintelligence investigation the F.B.I. opened in July 2016 into Russia’s covert operation to tilt the election in his favor.

The investigation included an attempt to figure out whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign cooperated with that effort, wittingly or otherwise. In the course of that inquiry, the F.B.I. used several confidential human informants to approach Trump campaign associates to see what they would say about any advance knowledge of Russia’s hacking and release of Democratic emails. It also wiretapped Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with many ties to Russian intelligence officials; by the time the F.B.I. applied for that warrant, the election was nearly over and Mr. Page had already left the Trump campaign, although wiretap orders permit the F.B.I. to look at any older emails in a target’s account.

The purpose of this investigation was to understand the scope and nature of an effort by a foreign adversary to manipulate an American election. Calling it a “surveillance operation on the Trump campaign” connotes trying to gain an electoral advantage, but there is no evidence that any information gathered by the inquiry was provided to the Clinton campaign or leaked to affect the vote. Moreover, saying it was launched by the Obama-Biden administration suggests political appointees launched it, but the investigation was opened by career law enforcement officials and continued under the Trump administration.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *