President Donald Trump is declaring exoneration prematurely in the Russia investigation. Trump is also taking undue credit for the economy and falsely asserting a sudden turnaround under his watch, claiming job growth from the twilight of the Obama administration as his own. A look some of the claims from the past week and the reality:
TRUMP: "Senator Richard Burr, The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that after almost two years, more than two hundred interviews, and thousands of documents, they have found NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUSSIA! Is anybody really surprised by this?" — tweet Sunday.
Senator Richard Burr, The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that after almost two years, more than two hundred interviews, and thousands of documents, they have found NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUSSIA! Is anybody really surprised by this?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2019
TRUMP: "The mainstream media has refused to cover the fact that the head of the VERY important Senate Intelligence Committee, after two years of intensive study and access to Intelligence that only they could get, just stated that they have found NO COLLUSION between 'Trump' & Russia." — tweet Friday.
The mainstream media has refused to cover the fact that the head of the VERY important Senate Intelligence Committee, after two years of intensive study and access to Intelligence that only they could get, just stated that they have found NO COLLUSION between “Trump” & Russia....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2019
THE FACTS: Trump is overstating it. Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, did tell CBS that he could not conclude there was collusion during the 2016 election based on the available evidence after his panel interviewed more than 200 witnesses and reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents. But Burr also allowed that some questions raised during the Russia probe could occupy the committee "for the next decade."
"If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don't have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia," he said in the interview that appeared Thursday. Burr's comment was similar to what he has frequently said over the last two years. In August, for instance, Burr told The Associated Press that there is "no factual evidence today that we've received" on collusion or conspiracy between Russia and Trump's campaign, but that he's still open on the issue.
Burr's comment last week was not an official declaration on behalf of the committee exonerating Trump of collusion, and the chairman suggested that its final report may not draw a conclusion.
"What I'm telling you is that I'm going to present, as best we can, the facts to you and to the American people," Burr told CBS. "And you'll have to draw your own conclusion as to whether you think that, by whatever definition, that's collusion."
The Senate committee's work is separate from that of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also probing Russian election interference, questions of collusion and possible obstruction of justice by the Trump campaign.
TRUMP: "We have a great economy DESPITE the Obama Administration and all of its job killing Regulations and Roadblocks. If that thinking prevailed in the 2016 Election, the U.S. would be in a Depression right now! We were heading down." — tweet Saturday.
We have a great economy DESPITE the Obama Administration and all of its job killing Regulations and Roadblocks. If that thinking prevailed in the 2016 Election, the U.S. would be in a Depression right now! We were heading down, and don’t let the Democrats sound bites fool you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2019
THE FACTS: There's no evidence of a sudden economic turnaround under Trump's watch, let alone one that averted a "Depression."
The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.8 percent last spring and summer, a solid pace but not out of line with Obama's record. It was just the fastest in four years.
Economists generally acknowledge that growth has accelerated compared with 2016 and 2017, and most partly credit Trump's tax cuts for fueling more consumer and business spending. The economy is on pace to grow at roughly 3 percent in 2018, which would be the first time since 2005 it would reach that mark.
Yet it barely missed that cutoff in 2015, when it expanded 2.9 percent under Obama.
Independent economists expect slower growth this year as the effect of the Trump administration's tax cuts fade, trade tensions and slower global growth hold back exports, and higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow to buy cars and homes.
TRUMP: "We have created 5.3 million new jobs and, importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do." — State of the Union speech Tuesday.
THE FACTS: That's not what he's done. He's measuring from Election Day in November 2016 rather than when he took office on Jan. 20, 2017.
Since January 2017, the U.S. has added 4.9 million jobs, not 5.3 million. Of them, 454,000 were in manufacturing, not 600,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Trump apparently reasons that employers and investors were so encouraged by his victory that they stepped up their hiring and investing right after the Nov. 8 election. But the economy simply does not turn on a dime like that, and Trump did not inherit a mess.
Here's what history will record: More jobs were created in Obama's last two years (5.1 million) than in Trump's first two years (4.9 million).
Growth in manufacturing employment began in Obama's second term, when 386,000 of these jobs were added during that term, and accelerated under Trump.
TRUMP: "The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions." — State of the Union address.
THE FACTS: His rhetoric is at odds with his actions when it comes to protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions. In reality, his administration is seeking in a lawsuit to eliminate such coverage. His Justice Department is arguing in court that those protections in the Obama-era health law should fall. The short-term health plans Trump often promotes as a bargain alternative offer no guarantee of covering pre-existing conditions.
Government lawyers said in legal filings last June that they will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in a letter to Congress that Trump approved the legal strategy.
A federal judge in Texas in December ruled the entire Obama-era law, including coverage for pre-existing conditions, was unconstitutional because Congress repealed its fines on uninsured people. The suit has moved to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. In the meantime, the law's provisions remain in effect. Trump has hailed the initial court ruling as "great" and predicted that it would go to the Supreme Court and be upheld.
Obama's health care law requires insurers to take all applicants, regardless of medical history, and patients with health problems pay the same standard premiums as healthy ones. Bills supported in 2017 by Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal the law could have pushed up costs for people with pre-existing conditions.
TRUMP: "Working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration: reduced jobs ..." — State of the Union address.
THE FACTS: Employment data suggest that the influx of immigrants helps increase overall hiring for the U.S. economy rather than erode job growth. The trend is clear in the government's monthly jobs report. The statistics don't distinguish between immigrants who are in the U.S. legally and illegally.
Nearly 64 percent of immigrants hold jobs, compared with roughly 60 percent of workers born in the United States, according to the Labor Department. Last year, immigrants accounted for roughly 40 percent of the 2.4 million jobs added.
Because a steady growth in the workforce helps the economy expand, economists say fewer immigrants would equal slower growth and fewer jobs. Falling birth rates and the retirement of the vast generation of baby boomers mean fewer people will flow into the workforce in the coming years — a drag on economic growth, which will, in turn, probably limit hiring.
Many economists have noted that adding immigrants would help maintain the flow of workers into the economy and support growth.
TRUMP: "Working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration: ... lower wages ...." — State of the Union address.
THE FACTS: The weight of research suggests that immigrants have not suppressed wages.
David Card, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley first studied the issue in 1990 by reviewing the arrival of Cuban migrants in Miami during the 1980 "Mariel boat lift." This historical rush of immigrants created a natural experiment to measure what then happened to incomes in the local area. He concluded: "The influx appears to have had virtually no effect on the wages or unemployment rates of less-skilled workers."
Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis studied immigration into California between 1960 and 2005. He wrote in a 2010 paper that it had "essentially" no effect on wages or employment of native-born workers.
But many people seeking to reduce immigration rely on research from George Borjas, a Harvard economist. His research found that the arrival of Cubans in the Mariel boat lift caused wages to fall for native-born high school dropouts in Miami. Other economists have questioned his methodology.
In addition, Borjas' findings would apply to a small fraction of U.S. jobholders today, only about 6.2 percent of whom lack a high school degree.
Other explanations for sluggish wage growth go beyond immigration. They include the decline in unionization, an intensified push to maximize corporate profits, growing health insurance costs that supplant wages and the rise of a lower-wage global labor force that in an intertwined worldwide economy can hinder pay growth for Americans.
TRUMP: "The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime, one of the highest in the entire country and considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country. Simply put, walls work and walls save lives." — State of the Union address.
THE FACTS: That's a distorted picture of El Paso, where Trump is going Monday to showcase his push for a border wall.
El Paso has never been considered one of the nation's most dangerous cities. In fact, its murder rate was less than half the national average in 2005, the year before the start of its border fence. The city has experienced ebbs and flows in violent crime but they have largely mirrored national trends and been under national averages for decades.
TRUMP: "I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever but they have to come in legally." — State of the Union address.
THE FACTS: His policy recommendations to date do not reflect this wish.
The plan he proposed upon taking office would have sharply limited the ability of citizens and permanent residents to bring in family, which he derisively called "chain migration." The Cato Institute, which favors more open immigration policies, estimated his plan would cut the number of legal immigrants by up to 44 percent, the largest cut to legal immigration since the 1920s.
According to data from the Homeland Security Department, about 750,000 of more than 1.1 million people who obtained green cards in 2017 — or two-thirds — did so through family relations. Trump's plan called for limiting family-based green cards to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and green card holders, a dramatic cut. He's also slashed the number of refugees the U.S. will accept for two straight years and he wants to eliminate diversity visas.
He's talked about switching to merit-based, instead of family-based, immigration and said at times that he wants to make it easier for temporary workers to work and graduates from top colleges to stay in the country. But researchers have said the net effect of his proposals would be fewer legal immigrants.
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Josh Boak, Juliet Linderman, Colleen Long, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ellen Knickmeyer, Jill Colvin and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.