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Fact check: Trump repeats false claims during rally in Waco, Texas


Former President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Saturday with a rally in Waco, Texas, that was reminiscent of his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.

The rally comes as Trump is facing investigations in New York City over a hush money payment, in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith over classified documents the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago, his attempts to overturn the 2020 election and his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

In recent days, the former president has made increasingly bellicose remarks about those probes, including predicting last week his own indictment and arrest in Manhattan – something that has not come to pass – and urging supporters to protest if he is indicted.

Saturday’s rally included many of Trump’s most often repeated false claims. Here’s a look at some of those claims.

CNN is continuing to fact check the rest of his rally and this story will be updated.

Trump claimed that he actually won the 2020 election but it was “rigged.”

“We won in 2016. We won by much more in 2020 but it was rigged,” he said. Later he reiterated the claim, saying “It’s a rigged system. Like we had a rigged election.”

Facts First: This is one of Trump’s regular lies. He lost the 2020 election, fair and square. Democrat Joe Biden won a 306-232 victory in the Electoral College – earning over seven million more votes than Trump, good for a margin of 51.3% to 46.8%.

Trump went on to repeat a version of a false claim that he made more than 100 times as president – that the US used to have a trade deficit with China of more than $500 billion. On Saturday he claimed that before he took office, “China was ripping us off, making $600 billion a year.”

Facts First: The US has never had a $600 billion trade deficit with China, even if you only count trade in goods and ignore the services trade in which the US runs a surplus with China. The pre-Trump record for a goods deficit with China was about $367 billion in 2015. The goods deficit hit a new record of about $418 billion under Trump in 2018 before falling back under $400 billion in subsequent years.

Trump also repeated a trade claim he made frequently during his presidency. Speaking of China, he said he “did a little tariff hunting” with China and “we took in hundreds of billions of dollars. I got the farmers of our country $28 billion.”

Facts First: Trump’s claim about who is paying the tariff money is false. Study after study has found that Americans are bearing the cost of Trump’s tariffs on imported Chinese products. And American importers, not Chinese exporters, make the actual tariff payments to the US government.

During the 2020 election, one of Trump’s campaign slogans was “promises made, promises kept.” Now that he’s running again, he’s reiterating what he claims were campaign promises he delivered. On Saturday, he referenced the border wall construction that occurred under his administration.

“I built hundreds of miles of wall and completed that task, totally as promised,” he said.

Facts First: It’s not even close to true that Trump “completed” the border wall.

According to an official “Border Wall Status” report written by US Customs and Border Protection two days after Trump left office, about 458 miles of wall had been completed under Trump – but about 280 more miles that had been identified for wall construction had not been completed. The report, provided to CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez, said that, of those 280, about 74 miles of barriers were “in the pre-construction phase and have not yet been awarded, in locations where no barriers currently exist,” and that 206 miles were “currently under contract, in place of dilapidated and outdated designs and in locations where no barriers previously existed.”

Throughout his rally, Trump attempted to paint a picture of a country that was struggling without his leadership. As one example, he claimed, “We are a failing nation. We are a nation that has the highest inflation in 50 years.”

Facts First: This is not true. In February, US inflation fell for the eighth straight month, reaching its lowest level since September 2021.

Last year, the year-over-year inflation rate reached a 40-year high of 9.1% in June, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. But since then, overall inflation has slowly and methodically stepped down.

Inflation is still high, but not at the record levels Trump suggested.

Trump told his familiar story about how, until he was president, the US was unable to deport “really bad people,” including MS-13 gang members to other countries including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras because those countries “wouldn’t take ‘em.”

“The buses taking really bad people back into Honduras and El Salvador, Guatemala and other countries, they wouldn’t allow us to go. So, I said to them, ‘Well, how are we going to get them out?’ They said, ‘Well, sir, we can’t get them out. We gave up years ago, under the Obama administration ‘cause they won’t take ‘em back,’” Trump said.

Facts First: It’s not true that, as a rule, Guatemala and Honduras wouldn’t take back migrants being deported from the US during Obama’s administration, though there were some individual exceptions.

In 2016, just prior to Trump’s presidency, neither Guatemala nor Honduras were on the list of countries that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) considered “recalcitrant,” or uncooperative, in accepting the return of their nationals.

For the 2016 fiscal year, Obama’s last full fiscal year in office, ICE reported that Guatemala and Honduras ranked second and third, behind only Mexico, in terms of the country of citizenship of people being removed from the US. You can read a longer fact check, from 2019, here.

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