PolitiFact roundup


PolitiFact recently checked out claims including one by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on murder in Milwaukee and President Trump’s statements about the volume of legislation he has signed and about Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s comments on Trump “collusion” with Russia. Here are summaries of our findings. Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com.

“We have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.”

— President Donald Trump on Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 in an event in West Palm Beach

According to calculations by govtrack.us, a nonpartisan website that collects congressional and other governmental data, Trump ranked last in legislation signed among post-World War II presidents in their first calendar year who took office on the regular four-year cycle (as opposed to those who were elevated to the presidency after a death or resignation).

In a report published on Dec. 21, 2017, govtrack.us wrote that “Trump has sunk to last place with 94 bills signed into law by his 336th day in office (today). That’s eight fewer than President George W. Bush and not even half as many as presidents Bill Clinton (209) and George H.W. Bush (242).”

The White House did not respond to an inquiry for this article.

Our ruling

In his first 100 days, Trump had signed the most bills of any president since Truman. Since then, however, he has fallen further and further behind. Just days before the end of his first calendar year in office, Trump ranks last among the 10 post-war presidents who began their term on the regular cycle.

We rate the statement False.

In Milwaukee, “murder is up an astonishing 57 percent.”

— Jeff Sessions on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 in a news conference

A White House spokesman directed us to City-Data.com figures showing Milwaukee had 90 murders in 2014 and 141 in 2016. That’s an increase of 57 percent.

But the FBI figures show the big spike in Milwaukee murders occurred between 2014 and 2015 (perhaps because of opioids, according to a new federal study) — and then dropped in 2016.

Figures for an up-to-date two-year comparison — including 2017, which had nearly ended when Sessions made his statement — were available. Both sets of figures show that from 2015 through Dec. 18, 2017, the number of murders was down — by 21 percent, according to the Journal Sentinel figures, and down by 20 percent according to the Milwaukee Police Department figures.

Our rating

Sessions wasn’t entirely clear on his time frame, although in citing Milwaukee crime figures he had just made reference in his remarks to a two-year increase in rape. The FBI’s count of homicides in Milwaukee in 2016 — the latest year for which FBI figures are available — was 57 percent higher than it was two years earlier, in 2014. Clearly, murders are higher since 2014.

But that paints a misleading picture of the current situation. Using an up-to-date two-year comparison, homicides in 2017, while still higher than in 2014, were about 20 percent lower than they were in 2015.

For a statement that has an element of truth, but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, our rating is Mostly False.

Said Dianne Feinstein said “there is no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.

— President Donald Trump on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 in a New York Times interview

A White House spokesman did not respond to our request for evidence backing up Trump’s claim.

The president, however, was apparently referring to Feinstein’s Nov. 5, 2017 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in which she discussed the Russia investigation but never flatly said there’s no collusion. As NPR reported in a similar fact check, Feinstein’s interview took place “following the guilty plea of former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. Charging documents described conversations Papadopoulos had with Russian-linked individuals where he was promised ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton, as well as hacked emails.”

In the CNN interview, Tapper asked Feinstein whether she had “seen any evidence that this dirt, these emails, were ever given to the Trump campaign.” Feinstein replied: “Not so far.”

Tapper then asked: “Have you seen any communications that suggested that the Trump campaign wanted them to release them through a different means?”

Feinstein answered: “I have not.”

The senator’s words were in response to a specific portion of the Russia investigation. They are not the same as saying “there is no collusion.”

Our ruling

While Feinstein said she had “not so far” seen specific evidence about one portion of the investigation, that’s far from declaring there was no collusion. Speaking more broadly about whether collusion took place, Feinstein said in an October 2017 interview that it’s “an open question.”

We rate Trump’s claim False.



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