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A brief history of Trump's unfounded claims and misleading statements as president

  • President Donald Trump's descriptions of calls with the leader of the Boy Scouts and the president of Mexico are the latest in a string of misleading or unfounded claims by Trump.
  • Those include statements about former FBI Director James Comey and the Russia investigation, among other topics.

Recent revelations showing President Donald Trump made unfounded or misleading claims are just the latest in a string of those statements since he took office more than six months ago.

On Thursday morning, The Washington Post published a transcript of the president's January call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull showing the pair had contentious exchanges. In February, Trump denied reports of the call getting heated, calling the conversation "civil."

Several times since January, the White House has had to defend similarly misleading statements by the president or someone else in his administration after more information surfaces. Some of the more notable instances are listed below.

The White House did not respond to CNBC's request to comment on this article.

President Donald Trump says something to reporters as he departs for travel to Poland and the upcoming G-20 summit in Germany, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, July 5, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Donald Trump says something to reporters as he departs for travel to Poland and the upcoming G-20 summit in Germany, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, July 5, 2017.

Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting 

Early last month, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer last year. The statement by the president's son responding to the story said the meeting primarily concerned a "program about the adoption of Russian children."

Subsequent reports and emails the younger Trump eventually released showed he took the meeting for another reason. He was offered compromising information on his father's election opponent, Hillary Clinton, as part of "Russia and its government's support" for the campaign.

The president's lawyers initially said he had no role in drafting his son's misleading statement. But the elder Trump "personally dictated" the statement, The Washington Post later reported.

Sanders then admitted that the president "weighed in just as any father would." The initial statement contained "no inaccuracy," she added.

Trump Tower 'wiretap'

In March, Trump accused President Barack Obama of having his "wires tapped" at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election.

The Trump administration repeatedly said the president would produce evidence to back up the explosive allegation. He never did.

Former FBI Director James Comey and top bipartisan congressional leaders said at the time they had no evidence to support the claim.

Comey's firing 

Trump abruptly fired Comey in May amid the federal investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Comey had publicly confirmed the probe and said it included looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Initially, the Trump administration said he made the decision based on Comey's handling of the Clinton email probe last year. The White House leaned on a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein criticizing Comey's actions.

Trump personally blew up the explanation. He told NBC News he would have ousted Comey "regardless" of what the Justice Department said.

The president also said he was thinking of the "Russia thing" when he decided to remove Comey.

The former FBI director later testified that he believes Trump fired him because of the probe.

Russia 'witch hunt'

Trump has repeatedly blasted the Russia investigation, calling it a "witch hunt" and a "hoax." The president has also deemed it an "excuse" for why the Democrats lost the 2016 election.

Trump's criticisms miss some key points. Comey said the FBI investigation into Russia started last July, months before the election outcome.

Bipartisan leaders of congressional panels have stressed the probe's seriousness. The president's new FBI director, Christopher Wray, also disputed that the investigation is a witch hunt.

Trump and his top associates have denied any collusion with Russia.

Carrier jobs deal

In December, Trump publicly proclaimed that he saved 1,100 Carrier manufacturing jobs in Indiana from going to Mexico. He cited the deal as evidence of his coming administration inspiring companies to keep jobs in the United States.

Trump misled about what the deal actually did. At least 300 of those jobs were not actually saved.

Mexico will pay for the wall

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly promised supporters that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall. He contends the barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border is necessary to stop illegal immigration.

Mexico repeatedly has said it has no plans to fund the project. The White House requested federal funding for the wall, while the House recently approved a $1.6 billion down payment on it.

In a January call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Trump appeared to admit he knew the funding would not come from Mexico.

Letting Obamacare fail

As Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare stalled in recent weeks, Trump changed his tune on how he wanted to handle the U.S. health-care system.

"As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!" he wrote in a July 18 tweet.

The president has not always said that, as he claimed. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly pledged to "immediately" repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, when he took office.

He called for congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the law in recent tweets, as well.

Comey 'leaking' classified information

In July, Trump accused Comey of leaking classified information. "That is so illegal," Trump added in a tweet.

The allegation apparently came after the Fox News program "Fox & Friends" aired a segment about Comey based on a report from The Hill. Some of the memos Comey wrote about his private conversations with Trump contained classified information, according to The Hill.

But the report did not state that the memo Comey had a friend share with The New York Times contained classified information.

Fox later corrected its story.

Trump's legislative achievements 

Last month, Trump made some bold claims about his legislative progress during his time so far in office.

"We've signed more bills — and I'm talking about through the legislature — than any president ever," Trump said, later noting that fact-checkers may call him out for the statement.

Trump lags behind several presidents who came before him in terms of bills signed, according to Politifact.

'Failing' New York Times

Often when The New York Times publishes coverage the president dislikes, he has dubbed the newspaper "failing."

Last month, the Times reported its second-quarter digital advertising revenue rose 23 percent. It said it added a net 93,000 digital-only subscriptions.

The company's stock has climbed more than 40 percent this year.

Phone calls

Trump gave a rambling, political speech at a national Boy Scouts event last month. It drew immediate criticism and an apology from the organization.

The president later told The Wall Street Journal he "got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them." However, the group said it was not aware of any call with Trump.

On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders said the call with the head of the Boy Scouts did not actually take place. "Multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership" did praise Trump in person on the day of the speech, she claimed.

She also made a similar concession about a call Trump claimed to have had with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Trump said his Mexican counterpart praised his border enforcement efforts.

The pair actually discussed the U.S.-Mexico border at the G-20 summit in Germany last month, Sanders said Wednesday.

Inauguration viewers 

In his first press briefing, former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer slammed reporters for coverage of the president's inauguration crowd size.

"That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe," an agitated Spicer said.

Photos of the National Mall showing larger crowds for Obama's 2009 inauguration than Trump's this year had circulated before Spicer's assertion. Those images and statistics like ridership for Washington's Metro appeared to disprove his claim.