ST. LOUIS – The tension between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was on full display from the opening moment of the debate Sunday night when they took the debate stage and — in a departure from tradition — didn’t shake each other’s hands.
The team of reporters, researchers and editors across CNN has been listening throughout the debate and selecting key statements from both candidates, rating them true; mostly true; true, but misleading; false; or it’s complicated.
Reality Check: Trump on Obamacare premiums
By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
Trump cited Obamacare as one of the top problems he wants to address if he is elected president.
“When I watch the deals being made and watch what’s happening with horrible things like Obamacare, where your health insurance and health care are going up by numbers that are astronomical. By 68%, 59% and 71%,” Trump said.
It’s true that some insurers are raising some of their plans’ premiums by that much, but that’s not the typical increase.
Insurers have requested a rate hike of 9%, on average, for the benchmark silver plan for 2017, up from 2% for this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The vast majority of Obamacare enrollees, however, don’t see those massive hikes. Some 85% of them receive federal subsidies that can lower their premium to less than 10% of their income.
Verdict: True, but misleading.
Reality Check: Clinton on 90% insured rate
By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
Clinton praised Obamacare as providing health insurance for 20 million people who didn’t have it before.
“Right now, we are at 90% health insurance coverage. That’s the highest we have ever been,” she said.
Clinton is right that the largest share of Americans now have health insurance. It’s actually even more than 90%. The uninsured rate was 8.6% in the first three months of this year, according to the National Health Interview Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That means a record 91.4% of Americans were insured.
Reality Check: Canadians traveling for health care
By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
In response to a question on Obamacare, Trump said, “If you ever noticed Canadians, when they need a big operation, when something happens, they come into the United States, in many cases because their system is so slow it’s catastrophic in certain ways.”
According to a 2015 report by the conservative Canadian think tank Frasier Institute, “In 2014, more than 52,000 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment outside Canada.”
The 52,000 is an increase of about 10,000 from the previous year. The report last year said one reason for patients traveling abroad is the long wait times in Canada, which were reported to be nearly 10 weeks for treatments deemed medically necessary.
The report itself says it does not have exact numbers but assumes it underestimates. That said, 52,000 Canadians is a miniscule percentage of the more than 35 million Canadians who receive benefits.
While the report doesn’t say how many patients travel to the US for medical treatment, we rate Trump’s claim as true, but misleading.
Reality Check: Trump claims 2008 Clinton campaign source of Obama photo in Somali garb
By Theodore Schleifer, CNN
Trump told Clinton that “your campaign” was responsible for circulating photos during the 2008 primaries depicting Barack Obama dressed in traditional Somali garb, a famous flare-up during the Democratic primary eight years ago.
Well, sort of.
The photo first appeared on Drudge Report, the conservative aggregator, and was attributed at the time to sources within the Clinton campaign, though no names were offered. The Obama campaign pounced on the report, blasting it as “divisive politics” and “part of a disturbing pattern.”
The Clinton campaign at the time did not immediately dispute that it was responsible — its first statement did not address the substance of the allegation.
“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted,” her aides said at the time.
The campaign said later that it had not been sanctioned by the campaign – but was not definitive about where it originated.
“We have over 700 people on this campaign and I’m not in a position to know what each one of them may or may not have done,” campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said at the time.
Previous questions about the Clintons’ race-based attacks on Obama have been blamed on volunteers, who might not have been “sanctioned” by the campaign. Clinton’s campaign brass pointed the finger at a “volunteer coordinator” in Iowa who shared the photo, which was part of what Trump said was an effort to discredit Obama’s heritage and legitimacy. The volunteer was clearly backing Clinton and organizing on her behalf in the first-in-the-nation primary state. But it’s not certain whether the volunteer was drawing a paycheck from her campaign and therefore an official Clinton actor.
“I don’t recall whether they were an actual paid staffer,” former Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle told CNN earlier this year. “But they did forward an email that promoted the conspiracy.”
Verdict: It’s complicated.
Reality Check: Trump on Clinton emails
By Ryan Browne, CNN National Security Producer
Trump returned to a common theme, slamming Clinton for her use of personal email during her tenure as secretary of state.
“You think it was fine to delete 35,000 emails? I don’t think so. She said that 33,000 emails had to do with her daughter’s wedding, number one, and a yoga class.”
He added, “for you to say that there was nothing wrong with you deleting 39,000 emails, again, you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Clinton handed 30,000 emails over to the State Department and said she deleted another 32,000 personal messages.
So the number was actually 32,000, not 39,000, 35,000 or 33,000, as Trump charged.
Of the 32,000 emails the FBI was able to find, more than 17,000 of them and determined that a “substantial number” were duplicates of emails that had already been turned over to the State Department.
The State Department has reviewed about 15,000 of the emails and determined that more than 9,400 were purely personal and will not be released and that another 5,600 are probably work-related and will be made public in the weeks before the election.
But he is partially right about the description Hillary gave for the emails that were deleted, thousands of which have been found to be work related.
Back in March 2015, when the server’s existence was first revealed, Clinton downplayed the email as being “about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.”
Trump’s three numbers are all inaccurate and the State Department confirmed that the majority were personal. Therefore, we rate Trump’s claims about the numbers as false. But true that Clinton downplayed emails that turned out to be work-related.
Reality Check: Can Trump appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton?
By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer
“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,” Trump told Clinton. “There has never been anything like it, and we are going to have a special prosecutor. I go out and speak and the people of this country are furious.”
But would Trump be constitutionally empowered to take such an action if he were elected the 45th president of the United States?
Under Title 6 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the attorney general does have the authority to appoint a special prosecutor, according to Stephen Vladeck, a law professor with the University of Texas School of Law.
Such action can be taken when the attorney general determines that a criminal investigation is warranted and that an investigation by the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest or “other extraordinary circumstance” and that “under the circumstances it would be in the public interest to appoint and outside special counsel.”
But the prosecutor would need to bring charges and that might a difficult proposition in the current climate, in the face of the comments by FBI Director James Comey earlier this year at the conclusion of the FBI investigation into whether or not Clinton broke the law in her use of a private email server.
In July, Comey said that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her use of a private email server in which classified material was was sent over in small amounts. But Comey also said “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” when he announced that the FBI would not recommend the Justice Department bring criminal charges against Clinton over the matter.
“I just don’t see a scenario where, if the director of the FBI doesn’t believe criminal charges can or should be brought, a subsequent Justice Department would bring them anyway,” Vladeck said of the political situation after Comey’s comments. But in practical terms regarding the legality of Trump’s promise, the only constraints are the ones set out in the federal regulations.
And would Trump be able to “instruct” his attorney general to undertake such an investigation?
Vladeck points out that the attorney general is supposed to be at least somewhat independent, but at the end of the day, the President can fire him or her for no reason. So in reality, the President could demand that the AG appoint a special prosecutor or else be fired.
That is essentially what led to the “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Nixon administration when President Richard Nixon dismissed Archibald Cox during the investigation of Watergate. But that incident ended up being a significant factor in turning the public tide against Nixon in the scandal that eventually brought down his presidency.
Reality Check: Bill Clinton’s law license, Paula Jones settlement
By Sonam Vashi, CNN
Trump went after Clinton’s husband tonight.
“But what President Clinton did, he was impeached, he lost his license to practice law, he had to pay an $850,000 fine to one of the women — Paula Jones, who’s also here tonight.”
The day before he left the Oval Office in 2001, Bill Clinton agreed to a suspension of his Arkansas license to practice law for five years, after giving misleading testimony during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The suspensions, and his payment of a $25,000 fine to the Arkansas bar association, was in exchange for the end of the seven-year Whitewater probe. The suspension of Clinton’s license closed the disbarment proceedings in Arkansas. Clinton is still listed as suspended on the Arkansas judiciary government website, although it’s been 10 years since the end of his suspension.
That same year, after the suspension of his Arkansas license, the Supreme Court disbarred Clinton from practicing law before it, a routine decision that happens if lawyers have been suspended or disbarred elsewhere. The action was mainly a symbolic one, since Clinton had never argued in a Supreme Court case, and Clinton was given 40 days to fight against the disbarment. Instead, Clinton resigned from the bar of the Supreme Court — again, a symbolic gesture.
Trump is also correct on the $850,000 figure. Paula Jones is a former Arkansas state employee who accused Clinton of making “persistent and continuous” sexual advances toward her while he was governor. She filed a federal lawsuit in 1994, and Clinton settled the lawsuit in 1998, paying out $850,000 to Jones and her lawyers.
Clinton wasn’t disbarred in Arkansas, but he did lose his license for a time. Trump’s claims are true.
Reality Check: Clinton on African-Americans’ incomes rising under Bill Clinton
By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
Hillary Clinton praised the prosperity America enjoyed during the administration of her husband, Bill. In addition to saying millions of jobs were created and everyone’s income rose, she specifically cited how African-Americans benefited.
“African-American incomes went up 33%,” she said.
The typical African-American household’s income rose to $40,830 in 2000, up 31.5% from 1992, just before Clinton took office, according to Census Bureau data.
That’s an even more robust increase than Americans as a whole. Overall, the typical American household saw its income climb to $57,790, up 13.9% from 1992.
While Clinton was slightly off on the numbers, our verdict: True.
Reality Check: Trump would not have had US in Iraq
By Eve Bower, CNN
Trump again claimed that he would not have supported the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Specifically, he said, had he been president, he “would not have had our people in Iraq,” and Captain Humayun Khan would still be alive.
Khan was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004, and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Khan’s parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, gained national prominence after speaking critically of Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
In reality, Trump was on the record as being supportive of the Iraq War as early as a month before Congress voted to authorize military force in Iraq in 2002, as well as soon after the invasion. He didn’t express his outright opposition to the war until more than a year later, in an August 2004 interview.
We rate Trump’s continued insistence that he would not have led America into war in Iraq as false.
Reality check: Trump says Clinton would raise taxes on everyone
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney
Trump claimed Clinton would be “raising everybody’s taxes massively.”
Clinton has proposed raising taxes on the highest-earning Americans, but not anyone making less than $250,000.
Independent analyses of her plan find that her proposed tax hikes would squarely hit the most well off.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center noted that “nearly all of the tax increases would fall on the top 1 percent; the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see little or no change in their taxes.” The Tax Policy Center will soon publish an updated analysis of her tax plan to incorporate new tax proposals she made over the summer.
Reality Check: Clinton says Trump would raise taxes on middle-class families
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney
Clinton said that despite claims that he would cut taxes for everyone, Trump actually “would end up raising taxes on … millions of middle-class families.”
Clinton was referring to a study that estimated his proposals would raise the tax burden on millions of low- and middle-income parents.
A leading Democratic tax policy expert conducted the study, but the conservative Tax Foundation said it replicated many of her numbers and found her conclusions “reasonable.”
The study estimated that roughly 20% of households with minor children and more than half of single parents could end up paying more in taxes than they do today. These groups include about 25 million adults and 15 million children.
What explains the tax impact? While Trump would increase the standard deduction and add new child care tax breaks, he would also raise the lowest tax bracket to 12% from 10%, eliminate the head of household status and repeal some personal exemptions.
Many single parents could find that tradeoff leaves them with a higher tax bill, the study found.