Lies, damned lies and Donald Trump: the pick of the president's untruths

Luke O'Neil


Donald Trump likes to boast about his achievements, imagined and otherwise, that is no secret. The president regularly trumpets the success of the greatest economy ever, and the strongest military, and the most decisive electoral victory and all manner of other superlatives he’s supposed to have delivered. But one that is undeniable is that he has just become one of the most prolific liars in the history of American governance, passing the 10,000th lie of his administration this week – meaning an average of almost 17 lies a day over 604 days.

Related: Trump has made 10,000 untrue claims as president, factcheckers say

Not all of his lies were created equally. Some have been harmless, almost goofy claims about his physical stamina or business acumen, or obviously exaggerated anecdotes about the types of things supporters say to him. Others are downright horrifying and dangerous, about serious issues such as immigration and abortion.

Here are just a few of the most memorable and weirdest lies among the many.

‘The doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby’

This past weekend, Trump repeated what has become one of the more frighteningly dishonest claims from the right lately regarding abortion.

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

The fearmongering comments echo previous lies about state laws on abortion that Trump has made, such as a State of the Union address claim that a New York law would allow for “a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth”.

Late-term abortions, the subject of both of these incorrect claims, are very rare and only occur when the pregnancy poses a threat to a mother’s health or there are dire fetal medical conditions.

‘First raises for our military in 10 years’

In May of last year, Trump bragged to a gathering of military families that he had given them a raise.

“We just approved $700bn for our military,” he said. “So we’re going to be having the best equipment ever known. And next year, $716bn. So I wanted to let you know. And, by the way – I know you don’t care about this – but that also includes raises for our military. First time in 10 years.”

Service members have received a pay raise every year since 1961.

Family separations began under Obama

“President Obama separated children from families,” Trump began saying in 2018, and has continued to repeat as recently as a few weeks ago, using a regular tactic of his in falsely placing blame for his policies on the previous administration. This is blatantly untrue. Unlike under the Trump administration, there was no official Obama policy of separating families and it did not happen outside of a few rare instances.

‘I won the popular vote’

One particularly pernicious lie that Trump has stuck to is that millions of votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election in favor of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. The number just so happens to make up for the nearly 3 million votes by which he lost the popular vote, and is so outrageous that even some of his ardent supporters had trouble explaining it without falling into logical traps.

“We will probably never know the answer to that question,” the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, said in July 2017, when asked about the claim. “Because even if you could prove that a certain number of votes were cast by ineligible voters, for example, you wouldn’t know how they voted.”

Trump’s was the biggest inauguration crowd ever

A combination of photos shows the crowds attending the inauguration ceremonies of Donald Trump (left) and Barack Obama (right).

A combination of photos shows the crowds attending the inauguration ceremonies of Donald Trump, left, and Barack Obama, right. Photograph: Staff/Reuters

In one of the earliest and most absurd claims of his young administration Trump said he had up to 1.5 million people in attendance for his inauguration, making it “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period”, which was the lie Sean Spicer infamously relayed on his behalf. Trump’s number was a vast overestimate.

A government photographer even edited official pictures of the inauguration to make the crowd appear bigger, following a personal intervention from Trump, according to documents.

It was a “massive field of people … packed”, Trump said at CIA headquarters the following day, adding that God had stopped it from raining that day. (It in fact rained.)

Thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheered on 9/11

During the campaign in 2015, Trump made the fantastical claim that he had watched “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering in New Jersey during the 9/11 attacks.

“It was on television. I saw it … There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down,” he said on ABC.

No one has been able to find any evidence that this ever happened, but Trump has stood by his story all the same.

Fred Trump was born in Germany

It’s not just the big things Trump is compelled to lie about, it’s also the minor details that seem to serve no conceivable benefit, such as in April of this year, when he asserted for the fourth time that his father had been born in Germany.

“My father is German, right? Was German, and born in a very wonderful place in Germany.”

The president’s father, Fred Trump, was born in New York City.