In perhaps the most notable moment of the session, Trump said he had previously wanted to order the assassination of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and “loaned it to anything,” but the Defender of the day, James Mattis, had opposed the idea.
It was a total contradiction to Trump’s comments two years ago. After reporter Bob Woodward reported in 2018 that Trump wanted Assad assassinated after a Syrian chemical attack on civilians in 2017, Trump told reporters that the report was “fiction” and that an assassination “n ‘had never even been considered, nor would it be considered.
In addition to his implicit concession on Tuesday that his 2018 comments were false, Trump made a significant number of false or misleading claims. Here is a preliminary list.
Trump repeated his claim that “I fired” Mattis as Secretary of Defense.
Facts first: Trump did not fire Mattis; Mattis resigned in December 2018 due to political differences with Trump. Trump forced Mattis out of government two months earlier than the departure date Mattis chose when he resigned, but it’s still not a layoff.
Mattis and ISIS
Claiming that Mattis is “a highly overrated general” and a “bad leader,” Trump said, “He wasn’t doing the job with Daesh. He wasn’t doing the job with Syria, Iraq versus Daesh. I got rid of Daesh. ISIS after he left. I did a great job on ISIS, 100% of the caliphate, got rid of them. “
Facts first: Trump’s claim about ISIS is both false and misleading.
This is false because, as US military leaders have repeatedly noted, Daesh continues to exist as a terrorist group even though its territorial “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq has effectively been eliminated. While the last vestiges of the caliphate were eradicated in March 2019, more than two months after Mattis left, it is misleading for Trump to suggest that it was his own realization that Mattis had nothing to do with. Much of the progress in liberating the Caliphate took place during Mattis’ tenure as Defense Secretary between January 2017 and January 2019. There was also substantial progress in the battle against Daesh in 2016, under the President Barack Obama. And the Kurdish forces did a lot of the fighting on the ground.
Trump has said he supports the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates despite Israeli opposition. Trump said: “You know what I learned about military equipment: You sell it today and it’s obsolete tomorrow. All of a sudden you’ll be like, ‘Well we’ve got a new plane. better plane. ‘”The facts first: military planes have been in regular use for decades, even in wealthy countries like the United States; the average age of American fighters or attack aircraft in 2018 was 27, the Air Force Times reported in 2019. The F-35 itself is not going to be obsolete anytime soon.
“It is true that military equipment becomes obsolete over time, but it is premature to say that the F-35 is becoming obsolete. The F-35 is still, in many ways, the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world. world, ”said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis and director of the aerospace security project at the think tank at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The obsolescence of military equipment depends on a number of factors, such as the military missions it is supposed to support, the threats posed by adversaries and the availability of other military equipment capable of accomplishing the same missions. . Obsolete equipment because one nation can perfectly suit another nation. “
Obama and military aid to Ukraine
Trump reiterated his claim that President Barack Obama gave Ukraine mere “pillows” of aid.
The facts first: Obama refused to provide deadly aid to Ukraine, but he did not send simple pillows and sheets; it sent counter-mortar radars, drones, armored Humvees, and night vision devices, among others. You can read a full fact check here.
Biden and drugs
Trump has again stated that he believes his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, was taking drugs to improve his performance during the last Democratic primary debate against Senator Bernie Sanders.
Facts First: There is simply no evidence for this claim. Trump made the same accusation about his 2016 opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Biden and the media
Again criticizing Biden’s mental acuteness, Trump claimed the media asked him questions in advance.
Facts first: Trump has provided no evidence for this claim. Trump has already made the allegation about a particular press conference in which Biden was not given any questions in advance, according to several reporters who were in the room, including CNN’s Arlette Saenz.
We cannot definitively declare the general claim false as we are not aware of all interactions between Biden and the media, but there is no public evidence.
The governor of Nevada and the election
Trump said of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat: “He will cheat on the ballots. I have no doubt about it. This is the same man who is in charge of the ballots. ”
The facts first: Sisolak is not “responsible for the ballots”, and there is no basis to suggest that he will somehow try to cheat. The state’s top election official, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, is a Republican. And county officials are the ones who send out the ballots.
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