Fake news in Trump’s speech

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Trump hails economy and "new American moment"1:45

In his first State of the Union speech, U.S. President Donald Trump hailed what he said were his administration’s economic achievements during his first year in office, saying “a new American moment” was now at hand. (no reporter narration)


President Donald Trump steps to the podium to begin his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
Trump hails economy and "new American moment"

Liz Burke

DONALD Trump has made some impressive claims in his State of the Union speech, but are they all correct? A fact check reveals the President could be spreading fake news.

2.35pm

NK defector raises his crutch to President

Mr Trump further drilled in the “ominous nature” of the North Korean regimen by highlighting the story of defector Ji Seong-ho, who was also in the crowd.

The President told the story of how Ji was run over by a train in North Korea after trying to steal coal to trade for food, leading to multiple amputations and stunted growth. He was later tortured by North Korean authorities after travelling to China, and has since defected to South Korea where he helps other defectors.

Mr Trump praised Ji, who waved his crutch in the air as the crowd applauded his story.

“Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all,” the President said. “Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.”

Ji Seong-ho holds up his crutches after his introduction by President Trump. Picture: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Ji Seong-ho holds up his crutches after his introduction by President Trump. Picture: J. Scott Applewhite/APSource:AP

Mr Trump featured a number of personal stories in his speech.

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2.20pm

Otto Warmbier’s parents’ emotional display

The parents of US student and victim of the North Korean regimen Otto Warmbier have made an emotional appearance during Mr Trump’s address.

Pledging not to “repeat the mistakes of past administrations” in dealing with North Korea, Mr Trump told the story of Otto’s capture to illustrate the “depraved character” of the regimen.

“Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state,” he said.

“After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labour, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return.”

Fred and Cindy Warmbier are recognised during the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington. Picture: Nicholas Kamm/AFP Photo

Fred and Cindy Warmbier are recognised during the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington. Picture: Nicholas Kamm/AFP PhotoSource:AFP

Mr Trump then directly addressed Otto’s parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier, who rose from the crowd with tears in their eyes.

“You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honour Otto’s memory with American resolve,” he said.

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2.10pm

Trump’s immigration plan

The President used part of his speech to outline the his plan for immigration policy reform.

He cited four key policies:

— A path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants brought by their parents at a young age.

— To build a wall on the South border and end “catch and release”.

— Ending the visa lottery that “randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people”.

— Ending family-based migration — “chain migration”.

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2.00pm

Fact check: The fake news in Trump’s speech

Mr Trump has made some impressive claims so far in his big speech, but are they all correct?

The Associated Press is fact-checking the President’s prepared remarks as he goes. Here are some of the claims they’ve examined so far.

Trump: “Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen for decades.”

The facts: He’s wrong about recent decades. The auto industry has regularly been opening and expanding factories since before became president. Toyota opened its Mississippi factory in 2011. Hyundai’s plant in Alabama dates to 2005. In 2010, Tesla fully acquired and updated an old factory to produce its electric vehicles.

Trump: “Last year I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 per cent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria.”

The facts:

Although it’s true that the Islamic State has lost nearly 100 per cent of the territory it held in Syria and Iraq when the U.S. began air strikes in both countries in 2014, Syria remains wracked by civil war, with much of that country controlled by the government of Russian ally Syrian President Bashar Assad and not by U.S.-allied groups. The Iraqi government has declared itself fully liberated from IS.

The progress cited by Trump did not start with his presidency. The U.S.-led coalition recaptured much land, including several key cities in Iraq, before he took office. And the assault on Mosul, which was the extremists’ main stronghold in northern Iraq, was begun during the Obama administration. But in the past year the counter-ISIS campaign has accelerated, based largely on the approach Trump inherited.

Trump: “We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.”

The facts: No truer now than in the countless other times he has said the same. The December tax overhaul ranks behind Ronald Reagan’s in the early 1980s, post- World War II tax cuts and at least several more.

An analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in the fall put Trump’s package as the eighth biggest since 1918. As a percentage of the total economy, Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest followed by the 1945 roll back of taxes that financed World War II.

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1.45pm

Trump outlines key policy areas

Health care: Mr Trump has called to make prescription drugs more affordable and to make it easier for patients with terminal conditions to have access to experimental treatments “that could potentially save their lives”.

Infrastructure: The President has called on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for new infrastructure investment. He wants to fix America’s “crumbling infrastructure” and “reclaim our great building heritage”.

Jobs: Mr Trump mentioned his signature tax cuts would create new jobs, and said he wanted “every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work. He also pledged to “support working families by supporting paid family leave”.

Immigration: Criticising past policies that “have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities”, Mr Trump said Americans would be helped by “immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families”.

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1.35pm

White House drops Guantanamo bombshell

President Trump has signed a new executive order announcing his intent to keep the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay open, the White House announced as Mr Trump took to the podium.

Mr Trump made it clear during his 2016 campaign for president that he wanted to keep Guantanamo open and “load it up with some bad dudes”.

But the White House announcement, released moments before the President’s first State of the Union address, marked a formal reversal of President Barack Obama’s eight-year effort to close the detention centre.

The order says the US maintains the option to detain additional enemy combatants at the detention centre in Cuba, when necessary. It requires the defence secretary to recommend criteria for determining the fate of individuals captured by the United States in armed conflict, including sending them to Guantánamo Bay.

“The executive order preserves a vital tool to protect the United States and its citizens from continuing significant threats,” the White House said. “The detention of enemies captured in an armed conflict is a lawful and necessary tool of war fighting that must continue to be available to the United States.”

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1.25pm

What’s wrong with this picture?

Donald Trump has started his first State of the Union speech by calling for unity, but critical commentators have noted the crowd gathered at the joint session of Congress have few obvious difference to set aside.

People have pointed out the applauding crowd the President is addressing appears to be, at a glance, a sea of mature, white men.

The crowd at President Trump’s delivers the State of the Union address. Picture: Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP

The crowd at President Trump’s delivers the State of the Union address. Picture: Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

Twitters users have noted the concentration of “old white men” gathered for the speech.

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1.15pm

President touts ‘incredible progress’

Mr Trump has begun his speech reflecting on the “tide of optimism” that he said began sweeping at the time of his first address to the chamber less than one year ago.

“Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission — to make America great again for all Americans,” he said.

“Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success.”

The President has so far focused on the “pains of hardship” that Americans have endured during his presidency.

“We have endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine.”

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1.10pm

Trump’s first State of the Union address under way

President Trump enjoyed minutes of applause before beginning his address.

The White House tweeted a video of his arrival.

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1.00pm

Melanin’s fashion statement

The First Lady has arrived and taken her seat alongside other members of the Trump family.

Commentators noted Melania Trump’s outfit choice — a cream-coloured Christian Dior pants suit — right away for its notable contrast to the black outfits worn by a number of women in the room.

A number of Democrats planned to boycott the president’s remarks, and some Democratic women planned to wear black to protest sexual harassment, an issue that has tarnished several politicians in both parties.

Trump himself has been accused of assault or harassment by more than a dozen women, accusations he has denied.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that the president’s lawyer arranged a payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, to prevent her from talking about an alleged affair she had with the future president. In a new statement Tuesday, Daniels said the affair never happened.

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12.45pm

Trump to call for ‘new American moment’

The President is expected to take on a positive tone as he seeks to rally a deeply divided nation.

Mr Trump will call for a “new American moment” in his first State of the Union address, his aim to infuse his presidency with a sense of optimism — for at least one night.

According to excerpts released ahead of the prime-time address, the president will declare that there has “never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

He’s calling on politicians on both sides to join forces to modernise the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and revamp immigration policies to focus on “the best interests of American workers and American families.”

“I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, colour, and creed,” Trump said in the excerpts.

The economy will be the centrepiece of Trump’s address, which is expected to run about an hour. Though the current trajectory of lower unemployment and higher growth began under President Barack Obama, Trump argues that the tax overhaul he signed into law late last year has boosted business confidence and will lead companies to reinvest in the United States.

According to the speech excerpts, Trump will herald the tax plan, which slashed rates for businesses and the wealthy while delivering more modest gains for most Americans, as a “tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”

During his year in power, Mr Trump has redefined presidential communications with his filter-free Twitter account, but he was quiet on Twitter on Tuesday ahead of the speech.

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  • Fact check: The fake news in Trump’s speech
  • White House drops Guantanamo bombshell
  • What’s wrong with this picture?
  • President touts ‘incredible progress’
  • Melanin’s fashion statement

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