Fact-Checking Trump’s Tulsa Rally: Covid-19, Protesters and Biden

The Four Percent


In his first mass rally in months, President Trump touched on everything from the coronavirus pandemic to military spending to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee. Here’s a fact-check.

What Mr. Trump Said

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases.”

False. The United States has conducted more than 26 million tests and recorded more than 2.2 million cases. But this still probably undercounts the scale of the pandemic, and ramped up testing does not account for the high number of cases.

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the number of cases is proportional to the number of tests does not hold water. Brazil has the second highest number of cases at over one million, but it has conducted 2.4 million tests. Conversely, Russia has conducted 16.7 million tests and reported about 577,000 cases.

Other metrics show that the pandemic is just more severe in the United States than other countries. The United States, for example, conducts roughly 21 tests to find one case, whereas Italy, one of the countries hardest and earliest hit by the coronavirus, performs about 188 tests to find a case. Russia has conducted more daily tests on a per-capita basis than the United States, but its share of tests that come back as positive is lower.

What Mr. Trump Said

“Look at what happened tonight. Law enforcement said, ‘Sir, they can’t be outside, it is too dangerous.’ We had a bunch of maniacs come and sort of attack our city. The mayor, the governor did a great job. But they were very violent. And our people are not nearly as violent, but if they ever were, it would be a terrible, terrible day for the other side.”

This lacks evidence. Reporters for The New York Times and other news organizations at the rally reported there were few protests and clashes with Trump supporters. A journalist for The Los Angeles Times said on Twitter that an entrance was closed briefly but that no one was turned away.

Even on the Fox News Channel, coverage leading into Mr. Trump’s rally showed few people milling about outside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., and noted that there was little interaction between Trump supporters and people protesting his event.

What Mr. Trump Said

“He installed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be in charge of environmental policy … I don’t think that’s going to work out too well, but she’s actually in charge of environmental policy … She’s got a little charisma, not much, but she doesn’t have a clue. You know it, but she’s in charge of the environment.”

This is false. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is one of eight members of a task force on climate change put together by the campaigns of Mr. Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was the last Democrat to concede to Mr. Biden in the party’s presidential primary race.

While Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will have some input on the task force’s climate change recommendations, its proposals are mere recommendations for the campaign and Biden appointees on the task force outnumber those from the more liberal Mr. Sanders, five to three.

What Mr. Trump Said

He supports sanctuary cities, and now Biden wants to end immigration enforcement and he wants to require you to provide free health care for millions and millions of illegal aliens, OK?”

This is false. Mr. Biden has said that he would reverse some of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies but that he would not decriminalize unauthorized border crossings. Under Mr. Biden’s health care plan, undocumented immigrants can purchase the public option, but it would not be “free.”

What Mr. Trump Said

“Biden is a puppet for China — son walked out with $1.5 billion.”

This lacks evidence. Companies and business partners associated with the younger Mr. Biden have struck deals involving China, but there’s no evidence that he personally has made $1.5 billion or traded his father’s influence for profit.

What Mr. Trump Said

“We’ve spent over $2 trillion to completely rebuild the unmatched strength and power of the United States military.”

This is misleading. The $2 trillion figure refers to the defense budgets for the past three fiscal years: $671 billion in 2018, $685 billion in 2019 and $713 billion in 2020. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the military needed to be completely rebuilt when he entered office is wrong.

Adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon operated with larger budgets every year from the 2007 fiscal year to 2012 fiscal year, peaking at $848 billion in 2008.

What Mr. Trump Said

“The murder rate in Baltimore and Detroit is higher than El Salvador, Guatemala or even Afghanistan.”

This is false. Baltimore and Detroit do have higher murder rates than Guatemala and Afghanistan, but El Salvador’s rate is higher. Regardless, comparing the crime rates of cities to that of entire countries is misleading.

In 2017, the last year in which there was data for all locations, Baltimore had a rate of 55.8 homicides for every 100,000 residents in 2017, and Detroit reported 39.8. The cross-country rates were 26.1 for Guatemala, 7.1 for Afghanistan and 61.8 for El Salvador. Baltimore had the 11th highest homicide rate in 2019 out of large cities and Detroit ranked at No. 37, according to an annual ranking published by Seguridad Justicia y Paz, a Mexican think tank. Mexican, Brazilian and Central American cities dominated the list.

What Mr. Trump Said

“They’re delinquent, for many years they’re delinquent. They haven’t been paying what they’re supposed to be paying. They’re paying 1 percent instead of 2 percent, and 2 percent is a very low number.”

This is misleading. Mr. Trump is referring to a goal set by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for each member to spend at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on its own defense each year. Germany has not met the goal in recent years, but it does not owe money to the alliance, nor is it arrears or “delinquent” for failing to meet that goal.

What Mr. Trump Said

“President Obama gave them $150 billion for nothing.”

False. The first figure is an exaggerated estimate of Iran’s own assets that were previously frozen under sanctions. The Iran nuclear deal released some of those assets in exchange for a check on Iran’s nuclear program. Critics have argued that the agreement’s provisions were insufficient, but it’s wrong to say the deal amounted to “nothing.”


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