Fact check: Trump’s post-conviction monologue was filled with false claims | CNN Politics (2024)

Washington CNN

Former President Donald Trump said he was going to hold a “press conference” on Friday in the wake of his Thursday conviction in Manhattan on felony charges of falsifying business records.

Instead, Trump delivered a rambling monologue that was filled with false claims on subjects ranging from the Manhattan trial to immigration to tax policy.

Here is a fact check of some of the inaccurate or unsubstantiated claims he made.

Crime in New York City

Trump repeated his familiar claim that, while Manhattan prosecutors have been focusing on him, New York City has been experiencing record-high violent crime. He said this time that “you have violent crime all over this city at levels that nobody’s ever seen before.”

Facts First: Trump’s claim is not even close to true. Violent crime in New York City – and violent crime in Manhattan in particular – has plummeted since the early 1990s and is today nowhere near record levels.

New York City recorded 391 murders in 2023, down about 83% from the 2,262 in 1990; 1,455 rapes in 2023, down about 53% from the 3,126 in 1990; and 16,910 robberies in 2023, down about 83% from the 100,280 in 1990.

Michael Cohen’s crimes

Criticizing key prosecution witness Michael Cohen, Trump repeated a claim he made during the trial in April. He asserted that Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, “got into trouble not because of me” but because of “outside deals” and “something to do with taxicabs and medallions, and he borrowed money, and that’s why he went.” He added that Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations to try to get himself a lighter penalty.

Trump continued: “He got in trouble for a very simple reason: because he was involved with borrowing a lot of money and he did something with the banks – I don’t know, defrauded the banks, but something happened.”

Facts First:Trump’s claim that Cohen got into trouble simply because of his non-Trump-related activities, such as those related to taxis and loans, is not true. First, Cohen’s case was referred to federal prosecutors in New York by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate any connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Second, Cohen’s three-year prison sentence in 2018 was formultiplecrimes, some of which were directly related to Trump.

Most notably, Cohen was sentenced forcampaign finance offensesconnected to a hush money schemeduring the 2016 presidential campaign to conceal Trump’s alleged extramarital relationships – the same hush money scheme that was central to this prosecution against Trump. Cohen wasalso sentenced to two months in prison, to run concurrently with the three-year sentence, forlying to Congress in 2017 in relation to previous talks about the possibility of building a Trump Tower in Moscow, Russia, including about theextent of Trump’s involvement in the aborted Moscow initiativeand about when in 2016 the discussions ended.(The discussions continued into June 2016, the month after Trumpbecame the presumptive Republican nominee, and did not conclude in January 2016 before the first votes were cast, as Cohen had claimed.)

Referring to Trump as “Individual-1,” Cohensaidat the time of his 2018 guilty plea for making false statements to the USSenate Select Committee on Intelligence: “I made these statements to be consistent with Individual-1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual-1.” When Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to the campaign finance violations, hesaidhe broke the law “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,”Trump.

Biden and the case

Trump repeated his frequent claim that the Manhattan case in which Trump was convicted “is all done by Biden and his people” and “in total conjunction with white house and the DOJ,” the federal Department of Justice.

Facts First:There is no basis for Trump’s claim. There is no evidence that President Joe Biden, his White House aides or the federal Justice Department had any role in launching or running Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution–and Bragg, a Democrat, is a locally elected official who does not report to the federal government. Theindictmentin the case was approved by a grand jury of ordinary citizens.

Trump hasrepeatedly invokeda lawyer on Bragg’s team, Matthew Colangelo, while making such claims; Colangelo left the Justice Department in 2022to join the district attorney’s officeassenior counsel to Bragg. But there is no evidence that Biden had anything to do with Colangelo’s employment decision. Colangelo and Bragg had been colleagues before Bragg was elected Manhattan district attorney in 2021.

Before Colangelo worked at the Justice Department, he and Bragg worked at the same time in the office of New York’s state attorney general, where Colangeloinvestigated Trump’s charityand Trump’s financial practices and wasinvolved in bringing various lawsuitsagainst the Trump administration.

The judge and an expert in election law

Trump claimed that, because of Judge Juan Merchan, “we weren’t allowed to use our election expert under any circ*mstances.” He claimed that this expert on election law was ready to testify “and the judge knocked him out, said you can’t testify.”

Facts First:Trump’s claim that Merchan refused to allow Trump’s team to use this witness “under any circ*mstances” is false. Merchan did not prohibit the potential witness, formerFederal Election Commissionchairman Bradley Smith, from testifying. Rather, Merchanlimited what Smith was allowed to testify about. Merchandecidedin March that Smith could provide background information about the FEC and define certain terms relevant to this case but could not opine on whether Trump broke federal election laws or offer opinions about how to interpret or apply those laws. After Merchanrefused last week to change his mind, Trump’s defense decided not to call Smith as a witness.

Smithwroteon social media last week: “Judge Merchan has so restricted my testimony that defense has decided not to call me.”

Trump, offering a hint of a clarification, did proceed to say on Friday that Smith “essentially” was not able to testify. But his earlier comments made it sound like Merchan had imposed a total ban on Smith’s testimony.

Immigration and ‘the Congo’

Trump repeated a claim he has made before about “the Congo” and migration, again without specifying whether he was referring to the Democratic Republic of Congo or the neighboring Republic of Congo. He said: “The Congo has just released a lot of people from jail – Congo, Africa – just released a lot of people, a lot of people, from their prisons and jails, and brought them into the United States of America.”

Facts First:Trump’s claim is baseless. Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, plus both pro-immigration and anti-immigration organizations in the US, told CNN they have not seen any evidence of Congolese prisons being emptied, let alone evidence of either country somehow having “brought” ex-prisoners into the US. Trump’s presidential campaign and an allied super PAC did not respond to requests to provide any evidence. A CNN search of two media databases turned up no evidence. And federal figures show that there is no “very big” influx of Congolese migrants of any kind, let alone former prisoners in particular.

“Everything he is saying isn’t true,” Democratic Republic of Congo spokesperson Patrick Muyaya Katembwe told CNN in a text message in March. Asked specifically about Trump’s claims about Congolese prisons being emptied of violent criminals, he said, “Never ever, it’s not true.” And, he said, “we want him to stop” telling these stories, since “it’s very bad for the country.”

Serge Mombouli, the Republic of Congo’s ambassador to the US, said in an email to CNN in March:“There is no truth or any sign nor a single fact supporting such a claim or statement.”

You can read morehere.

Trump and Nord Stream 2

Trump repeated his claim that he had ended a key Russian project – the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany. He said: “You know, I ended the Russian pipeline. It was dead.”

Facts First:Trump’s claim is false. He did not “end” Nord Stream nor render it “dead.” While he didapprove sanctionson companies working on the project, that move came nearly three years into his presidency, when the pipeline was alreadyaround 90% complete– and the state-owned Russian gas company behind the projectsaidshortly after the sanctions that it would complete the pipeline itself. The companyannouncedin December 2020 that construction was resuming. And with days left in Trump’s term in January 2021, Germanyannouncedthat it had renewed permission for construction in its waters.

The pipeline never began operations; Germany ended uphalting the projectas Russia was about to invade Ukraine in early 2022. The pipeline was damaged later that year in what has beendescribed as a likely act of sabotage.

Biden’s tax policy

Trump claimed while denouncing the Biden administration: “They want to raise your taxes by four times.”

Facts First: This is false, just as it was when Trump made the same claim during the 2020 election campaign and in early 2024. Biden has not proposed to quadruple Americans’ taxes, and there has never been any indication that he is seeking to do so.

The nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center think tank, which analyzed Biden’s never-implemented budget proposals for fiscal 2024, found this: “His plan would raise average after-tax incomes for low-income households in 2024, leave them effectively unchanged for middle-income households, and lower after-tax incomes significantly for the highest-income taxpayers.”

The Tax Policy Center found that Biden’s proposal would, on average, have raised taxes by about $2,300 – but that’s about a 2.3% decline in after-tax income, not the massive reduction Trump is suggesting Biden wants. And critically, Tax Policy Center senior fellow Howard Gleckman noted to CNN on Friday that 95% of the tax hike would have been covered by the highest-income 5% of households.

The very biggest burden under the Biden plan would have been carried by the very richest households; the Tax Policy Center found that households in the top 0.1% would have seen their after-tax incomes decline by more than 20%. That’s “a lot,” Gleckman noted, but it’s still nowhere near the quadrupling Trump claims Biden is looking for. And again, even this increase would have been only for a tiny subset of the population.

Biden has promised not to raise taxes by even a cent for anyone making under $400,000 per year.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

Fact check: Trump’s post-conviction monologue was filled with false claims | CNN Politics (2024)
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