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PolitiFact: Fact-checking attack speeches from Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

Clinton attacked Trump on his business bankruptcies (Mostly True), his thoughts on wages (she neglected his nuanced statement), his plans to deport illegal immigrants (“they have go”) and to end Obamacare (yes, he does).
Clinton attacked Trump on his business bankruptcies (Mostly True), his thoughts on wages (she neglected his nuanced statement), his plans to deport illegal immigrants (“they have go”) and to end Obamacare (yes, he does).
Published Jun. 24, 2016

In dueling speeches this week, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attacked each other on character, judgment and policy in some of the sharpest exchanges of the general election.

Trump called Clinton "a disaster ... the most corrupt person to ever run for president" and a "world-class liar" only concerned about power.

Clinton said Trump was "dangerous," "reckless" and "careless," concluding, "Just like he shouldn't have his finger on the button, he shouldn't have his hands on our economy."

The candidates made many charges during their extended remarks. PolitiFact vetted both speeches for accuracy; here are fact-checks from both speeches.

Trump on Clinton

Trump started by describing Clinton's "phony landing in Bosnia where she said she was under attack and the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers."

We rated this claim True. In all key respects, Trump is correct. Clinton did claim in 2008 that she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire and that there was no greeting ceremony. She later retracted the entire statement after video of the landing showed otherwise.

"She's deleted at least 30,000 emails," Trump said.

This is accurate and actually a slight understatement. Before she turned over some 30,940 emails to the State Department, Clinton deleted more than 31,000 without any government review that she says were personal correspondence.

The Benghazi victims were "left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed," Trump said.

We rated Trump's claim False, for several reasons. Clinton was not literally sleeping when the Benghazi attacks unfolded, as it was midafternoon on a Tuesday in Washington. She worked late into the night, as evidenced by an 11 p.m. email.

If we take Trump's claim more broadly, that Clinton was inattentive throughout the hours in which the attacks occurred, none of the many congressional investigations into Benghazi have made that assertion.

Trump also brought up the Iraq War: "It all started with her bad judgment in supporting the war in Iraq in the first place. Though I was not in government service, I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and yes, even before the war ever started."

Clinton did vote for the Iraq War. But while Trump often points to his early opposition to the Iraq War as evidence of his foresight, there is no evidence for it, and the claim rates False. We could only find one example of Trump commenting on the Iraq War before the invasion where he seemed apprehensive but not vehemently opposed to the operation. In a more damning interview, Trump said he supported the invasion.

Trump added, "But Hillary Clinton learned nothing from Iraq, because when she got into power, she couldn't wait to rush us off to war in Libya."

While it's true that Clinton advocated for intervention in Libya, Trump conveniently neglects to mention that he did as well. In his 2011 video blog, Trump said, "Now we should go in, we should stop this guy (Muammar Gadhafi), which would be very easy and very quick."

Trump attacked Clinton on refugees. "Hillary Clinton supports a radical 550 percent increase in Syrian refugees coming into the United States, and that's an increase over President Obama's already very high number," Trump said.

Clinton has said she wants to raise refugee admissions from Obama's limit of 10,000 to 65,000 — a 550 percent increase. A similar statement rated Mostly True.

But Trump added, there's "no way to screen who they are, what they are, what they believe, where they come from." We rated a claim like this — there is "no system to vet" refugees — False. There are concerns about information gaps, but a way to screen refugees does exist and has since 1980. It involves multiple federal intelligence and security agencies as well as the United Nations. Refugee vetting typically takes one to two years and includes numerous rounds of security checks.

"For the amount of money Hillary Clinton would like to spend on refugees, we could rebuild every inner city in America," Trump said.

Clinton hasn't said how much she would spend, but the Obama administration requested a bit under $2.2 billion for 100,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017. Clinton has said she would take in about 55,000 more Syrians so scaling up the cost, that's roughly $3 billion to $4 billion.

That barely scratches the surface of the needs of America's cities. The United States would need $225 billion for substandard housing and infrastructure. So refugee admissions would be a tiny fraction of the price tag for rebuilding America's inner cities. We rated Trump's claim Pants on Fire!

"We are, by the way, highest taxed nation in the world. Please remember that."

We've given Trump three False ratings for this claim. Whether you're looking at tax burden as a percentage of GDP or per capita or specifying corporate tax revenue, the United States is nowhere near the top.

Clinton's speech

Clinton focused much of her attack on Trump's business record.

"He bankrupted his companies not once, not twice, but four times," she said.

Clinton could have actually offered a higher count. Four of Trump's companies — three casinos in Atlantic City and the Plaza Hotel in New York — filed for bankruptcy in 1991 and 1992 alone. He declared Chapter 11 again in 2004 and once again in 2009.

It's not entirely fair to pin it all on Trump, as Clinton seems to do, as the majority of the bankruptcies happened when the overall casino industry was struggling. We rated Clinton's claim Mostly True.

"Donald Trump actually stood on a debate stage in November and said that wages are too high in this country," Clinton said.

Trump has said many things about the minimum wage. During the Republican debate in Milwaukee in November 2015, Trump said wages are "too high" and, when asked whether he would raise the minimum wage, said, "I would not do it."

But Trump said the minimum wage is too low in an interview with Chuck Todd on May 8 on Meet the Press: "I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I'd rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide. … I think people should get more. … I don't know how you live on $7.25 an hour."

So what Clinton stated was accurate, but it left out Trump's more nuanced answer in May.

Clinton said that Trump "wants to end Obamacare, but has no credible plan to replace it or to help keep costs down. It really wouldn't be good for our economy, would it, if 20 million people lost their health insurance?"

There's no question about Trump wanting to end Obamacare. Trump's campaign website says, "On day one of the Trump administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare." As for the 20 million people who might lose their health insurance, that's based on a March 2016 release from the Health and Human Services Department.

"The provisions of the Affordable Care Act have resulted in an estimated 20 million people gaining health insurance coverage between the passage of the law in 2010 and early 2016," according to the press release.

However, it wouldn't necessarily follow that all of those people would be without health insurance if Obamacare ended. As for Trump's replacement plan, the details are vague.

Clinton said Trump wants to "round up and deport more than 11 million people."

Trump said in August 2015 that all illegal immigrants "have to go." Trump amplified that call in May, saying he wanted teams to remove an estimated 11 million people who are in the country without authorization. He described how he would do this in an MSNBC interview in November 2015 when he said, "You're going to have a deportation force. And you're going to do it humanely."