PolitiFact parses truth from fiction at the Clinton-Trump forum


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump didn’t appear on the same stage at the same time Wednesday, but they did manage to trade jabs about their records during NBC’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum.”

And PolitiFact’s fact-checkers were monitoring every exchange.

The 2016 presidential nominees appeared back-to-back and took questions from NBC host Matt Lauer.

Abbreviations of some of our fact checks can be found below.

Clinton: There are 20 veteran suicides a day.

Trump made the same claim in July. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs examined veterans records from 1979 to 2014, and it calculated an average of 20 veterans taking their own lives every day. This is an update to an estimate the VA made of 22 veterans in 2010.

When a veteran asked Trump what his plan is to “stop the 20 veterans a day from killing themselves,” Trump tried to correct her and floated the old estimate. “Actually, it’s 22,” he said, before broadening his range. “And it’s almost impossible to conceive that this is happening in our country, 20 to 22 people a day are killing themselves.”

We rated Clinton’s statement True.

Clinton: “Classified material has a header which says ‘top-secret, secret, confidential.’ Nothing, and I will repeat this and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice, none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header.”

Three of the email chains had a “(C)” indicating confidential information, though that’s not enough to consider them classified. And the FBI did find 81 email chains that contained classified information, though they weren’t appropriately labeled. But Clinton is correct in saying nothing in her emails had a header indicating classification status.

This carefully worded statement is partially accurate but leaves out context.

We rated this claim Mostly True.

Clinton: “I will not let the VA be privatized, and I do think there is an agenda out there, supported by my opponent to do just that.”

Trump supports giving veterans access to private care.

But that’s not the same thing as privatizing the entire system, which would eliminate the government care entirely.

He has never proposed that.

We rated Clinton’s statement Mostly False.

Clinton: “With respect to Libya, again, there’s no difference between my opponent and myself. He’s on record extensively supporting intervention in Libya.”

The record shows that Trump did endorse the attacks that unseated Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

Though he didn’t speak often on the topic, he was emphatic when he did comment. “We should go in, we should stop this guy,” Trump said in 2011 on his own video blog.

We rated Clinton’s claim Mostly True.

Trump: “I was totally against the war in Iraq.”

Trump didn’t often comment on the war before it happened, but what he did say does not amount to opposition.

While he came to that position when the war became difficult, he was more accepting of military action early on. And in 2002, when asked whether American should go to war, he said, “I guess so.”

We rated Trump’s claim False.

Trump: “I was able to get more votes than anybody has ever gotten in the history of Republican politics.”

Trump received 13.3 million votes in the GOP primary, beating George W. Bush’s previous record of 11.5 million votes.

But it’s important to note that Trump was also supported by less than half of the party’s primary voters.

We rated this statement True.

Trump: Russian President Vladimir Putin “does have an 82 percent approval rating.”

Multiple American polls put Putin’s approval rating around 80 percent among the Russian public.

That includes a recent study that adjusts for the possibility that respondents may have been lying to pollsters out of fear or social reasons.

We rated this statement True.

Trump: “Hillary Clinton six months ago said the vets are being treated essentially just fine, there’s no real problem, it’s over-exaggerated. She did say that.”

Clinton has said problems at the VA have “not been as widespread as it has been made out to be.” But she has also acknowledged systemic problems within the system and has repeatedly urged reform.

Trump’s claim is misleading and leaves out the full story.

We rated it Mostly False.

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