The public views one Republican presidential candidate as far more dishonest than the rest. With 52 percent of Americans viewing him as “not honest,” Donald Trump is widely considered the biggest liar in the Republican primaries.
Americans are right not to believe what Trump says. He constantly denies having said things he said, even when they are quoted back at him verbatim. Following are ten times—out of many more—that Trump has lied about what he has said or about his stated principles.
1. ‘I didn’t say shut down immigration.’
The day after the Brussels terrorist attack, Trump said in an interview with CBS “This Morning,” “I didn’t say shut it down. I said you have to be very careful. We have to be very, very strong and vigilant at the borders.”
On December 7, 2015, Trump issued a press release that begins, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He read and reaffirmed his statement at a rally that day.
In fact, on March 22, Trump also said on Fox News, “I would close up our borders to people until we figure out what is going on.”
2. ‘I don’t like mandates.’
At the February 26 Republican debate, Trump said he opposed government mandating that individuals purchase health insurance. While he said he would require insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, he said insurance companies “were wrong” that mandating preexisting conditions would require an individual mandate. During Sean Hannity’s hour-long interview before the debate, Trump similarly claimed that he opposed such mandates.
It is hard to square Trump’s claimed position here with his statement to Anderson Cooper just eight days before the debate: “I like the mandate.” That’s right, during a forum with Trump on February 18, Cooper asked, “If Obamacare is repealed and there’s no mandate for everybody to have insurance, why would an insurance company cover a preexisting condition?”
Trump’s response: “Well, I like the mandate. So here’s where I’m a little bit different. I don’t want people dying on the streets.”
3. ‘I never discussed Libya.’
Ted Cruz tied Trump to Clinton-Obama foreign policy by noting that Trump supported their intervention in Libya’s civil war that resulted in Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow. Trump responded with indignation: “He said that I was in favor of Libya? I never discussed that subject.”
Unfortunately for Trump, video exists of him discussing that subject—and calling for U.S. troops to intervene to topple Gaddafi. Trump cared so much about the subject that he actually went out of his way to record a video blog in February 2011, in which he stated:
I can’t believe what our country is doing. Gaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around we have soldiers all have the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage and that’s what it is: It’s a carnage. … It’s horrible what’s going on; it has to be stopped. We should do on a humanitarian basis, immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively, and save the lives.
About Syria, which Cruz also invoked, Trump has been all over the place. One day he says, “We can’t continue to be the policemen of the world” and “Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we care?” Another day, he says he would invade Syria with “boots on the ground.”
4. For Iraq Before He Was Against It
Trump isn’t just talking out of both sides of his mouth on Libya, Trump has a long track record of supporting a war before turning against it when the going gets tough. So, too, on Iraq. He often lies at debates that he opposed George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. At the September 2015 CNN debate, Trump said he was “the only person on this dais that fought very, very hard against us [going into Iraq].”
“You can check it out,” he continued. Indeed you can, and others have—finding that Trump was lying. On the Howard Stern show on September 11, 2002, Trump was asked, “Are you for invading Iraq?” to which Trump responded, “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time [in the ’90s] it was done correctly.”
Trump defended himself at the February 2016 CNN forum by saying, “That was quite a bit before the war started.”
That was one day before President Bush made a speech to the United Nations calling for action against Iraq and three weeks before Congress approved and Bush signed into law the resolution of force against Iraq on October 2, 2002. It was also only half a year before the invasion began on March 20, 2003.
On January 28, 2003, with Bush still trying to convince foreign allies to support putting pressure on Saddam Hussein, Trump griped, “Whatever happened to the days of the Douglas MacArthur? He would go and attack. He wouldn’t talk.” The day after the invasion began, March 21, Trump said, “It looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.” He also expressed no skepticism over the weapons of mass destruction claims. Instead, he said, “It will be very interesting to see what kind of weapons they find.”
Just a few days after celebrating the success of the war and its positive impact on the economy, Trump said on “Nightline,” “The war’s a mess,” and “If they keep fighting it the way they did today, they’re going to have a real problem.”
He said on September 11, 2003, seven months after the war started, “I would have fought terrorism but not necessarily Iraq,” and on April 16, 2004, almost a year after the war started, he said it was “a terrible mistake.”
Now Trump says that we would be better off if Saddam was still in charge, because, “At least he killed terrorists.”
But even after Trump turned against the war when it was already underway, he still celebrated the removal of Saddam. He said on December 15, 2003, “If we are there, you have to take down Saddam Hussein. And they have done that, and they did it maybe not as quickly as they thought in terms of finding him, but they found him. And that is a huge day for this country.”
In summary, Trump didn’t fight the war before it started. Even more, he didn’t fight “very, very hard” against it. He made what he has himself subsequently determined was a terrible misjudgment about the efficacy of overthrowing Saddam.
5. ‘I never said the government should pay for everybody’s health care.’
Cruz demonstrated he knows the old lawyer’s maxim to never ask a question for which you don’t know the answer. In February’s Republican debate, he asked Trump point-blank, “Donald, true or false, you said the government should pay for everyone’s health care?”
Donald took the bait and answered directly—and lied—saying, “That’s false.” Oops. Donald said on “60 Minutes” on November 27, 2015, four months after he launched his campaign, “The government’s gonna pay for it [universal healthcare].”
This clip of the “60 Minutes” interview, which is a little bit longer, wasn’t produced by the Cruz campaign yet shows exactly the same thing in context.
And here’s a longer clip of the exchange at the debate.
6. ‘I would never use filthy language.’
Asked about former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s statement that Mexico would never pay for that “f*****g wall,” Trump pretended to be offended by his language. “I saw him make the statement,” he said. “I saw him use the word that he used. I can only tell you, if I would have used only half of that word, it would have been national scandal. This guy used a filthy disgusting word on national television, and he should be ashamed of himself, and he should apologize.”
Interesting comments from a man who refused to apologize for uttering the words “schlonged” and “pussy,” as well as the f-word, all on stage.
7. ‘I called McCain a war hero.’
Since Trump has no backbone, he never takes responsibility for the insults he dishes out on the campaign trail. He tries to insert plausible deniability into his attacks on women, disabled people, conservative activists, and prisoners of war.
Dilbert author Scott Adams pointed this out with Trump’s use of the vulgarity “schlonged”: “Schlonged has just enough deniability built into it (similar to saying someone ‘sucks’) that Trump could almost-sort-of-but-not-quite explain it away.”
While attacking McCain, Trump was pressed by pollster Frank Luntz to admit McCain was a war hero, to which Trump responded, “He’s not a war hero. He is a war hero. He’s a war hero because he got captured.” The clear implication is that Trump doesn’t think McCain did actively anything to earn the title of war hero.
The next day, Trump tried to deny responsibility for saying that. On ABC News’s “The Week,” he said he didn’t owe McCain an apology, because “If you look at Sharyl Attkisson’s report last night, four times she said I said perfectly, I said whatever it was, and it was absolutely fine.” Whatever that means. But even after he said McCain was “a war hero” only because he was captured, he added, “I like people that weren’t captured.”
8. ‘I would never use the f-word.’
After getting caught on video at a New Hampshire rally saying Americans should tell businesses that bring back factories to America under a hypothetical Trump presidency “to go [f**k] themselves,” Trump went on Bill O’Reilly’s show and denied saying it.
Watching the video, the audio of the word coming out is quiet, so it’s not clear whether he said it verbally or just mouthed it, but of course no one was lost as to his meaning. That’s another case of him trying to insert plausible deniability.
Even if Trump is granted benefit of the doubt there, however, it’s absolutely not true that he “would never use the word,” as he told O’Reilly, In fact, he has used the word four other times in major speeches, as highlighted in the supercut.
9. ‘No one should question someone else’s religion.’
After Pope Francis said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” Trump responded, “No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”
Trump has already violated his newly created standard many times in this campaign and prior. Trump has questioned Cruz’s religion: “How can Ted Cruz be an Evangelical Christian when he lies so much and is so dishonest?”
How can Ted Cruz be an Evangelical Christian when he lies so much and is so dishonest?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2016
He’s said of Cruz, when questioning Cruz’s faith, “Not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, okay?”
He has also questioned President Obama’s religion: “Would I be comfortable [with a Muslim president]? I don’t know if we have to address it right now. Some people have said it already happened, frankly,” he said in September 2015.
“[Obama] doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim,” he said in 2011.
Does Madonna know something we all don't about Barack? At a concert she said "we have a black Muslim in the White House."
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2012
Recently in Utah, Trump questioned Mitt Romney’s faith: “By the way, Mitt Romney is not one of them. Did he choke? Did this guy choke? He’s a choke artist, I can’t believe. Are you sure he’s a Mormon, are we sure?”
10. Calling Marco Rubio ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator’
The CNBC debate was a trainwreck by all accounts, but there was one nugget of information we got out of it: Trump is willing to lie about concrete facts regarding things he has expressed that are easily Google-able.
When moderator Becky Quick asked, “You had talked a little bit about Marco Rubo—Rubio—I think you called him ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator,’ because he was in favor of the H-1B visas,” Trump answered, “I never said that. I never said that.”
Viewers googled it and found Trump’s own position page on immigration, which stated, “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.” Trump later appeared to reverse himself on this facet of immigration policy, too, even though it is his key policy stance, saying of H1-B visas, “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in…I’m softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country.”
At first Quick foolishly believed The Donald and said, “I’m sorry,” but later in the debate, possibly after having heard from Twitter users, she corrected the record.
After months of Trump’s lying, the public is learning to be not so Quick to trust him, and it’s taking a toll. In the February YouGov poll, his dishonesty rating was only four points lower than Hillary’s. With the help of Zuckerberg and Larry Page, politicians are finding it’s harder and harder to lie when you are on videos people can find with a few simple searches.