Reality check quick takes: Fact-checking the first presidential debate

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton speaking at the 1st Presidential Debate at Hofstra University, New York on September 26, 2016.

HEMPSTEAD, New York — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are facing off in the first 2016 presidential debate, and their use of the facts is being put to the test.

From misrepresentations to half-truths and flat out lies, Trump has talked around and away from the truth more brazenly than any major party presidential nominee in modern political history. Clinton has made misleading and even false statements about her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

We’ll be keeping the candidates honest throughout the debate — fact by fact.

Trump says he opposed the Iraq War


“Wrong,” Trump said when Clinton accused him of supporting the Iraq War. But Trump was on the record as supportive of the Iraq War as early as a month before Congress voted to authorize military force in Iraq and even soon after the invasion. He didn’t express his outright opposition to the war until more than a year later, in an August 2004 interview.

Trump: “She was involved” in spreading birtherism


The debate wasn’t the first time Trump has alleged Clinton spread the lie that Obama was not born in the US. But it’s still wrong. A 2008 Clinton campaign volunteer coordinator was fired after forwarding an email promoting the conspiracy theory, but the campaign itself never questioned Obama’s birthplace. Trump, meanwhile, continued pushing birtherism for years after Obama released his birth certificate in 2011.

Trump: Stop-and-frisk wasn’t ruled unconstitutional


“You’re wrong,” Trump said when debate moderator Lester Holt raised the fact that the practice as used in New York was ruled unconstitutional. But it was, by a federal judge in 2013.

Trump: Clinton called TPP “gold standard of trade deals”


Clinton said in 2012 as secretary of state that the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal “sets the gold standard in trade agreements.” The trade deal wasn’t yet finalized, and Clinton announced she opposed the deal after it was signed.

Clinton: Trump called climate change a hoax “created by the Chinese”


Trump has tweeted on several occasions that climate change was “created by the Chinese” or “an expensive hoax.”

He also told CNN last September that he’s “not a believer in climate change.”

Later, Trump walked back his claim a bit, saying, “Obviously, I joke, but this is done for the benefit of China because China does not do anything to help climate change.”

Trump: “I am going to cut taxes big league and you are going to raise taxes big league. End of story.”


Most Americans will see no change in their taxes as a result of Clinton’s tax plan. But nearly all of those increases will fall on the top 1% of taxpayers and the bottom 95% of taxpayers will see little or no change in their taxes, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Trump: “You’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life”


ISIS only came into being in 2006 after splintering from al-Qaeda in Iraq. Clinton was born in 1947.

Clinton: “Donald rooted for the housing crisis”


Trump said in 2006, “I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy.”

Trump: “Ford is leaving. “Their small car division — thousands of jobs, leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio.”


In his opening question, the Republican nominee alleged that Ford was “leaving” the United States and cutting thousands of jobs while moving production plants to Mexico. Ford is opening a new plant in Mexico, but they’re not cutting any US jobs to do it.