Fact-checking the last night of the RNC

After much deliberation and several changes in plan, his speech will take place on the South Lawn of the White House, despite potential Hatch Act violations for staffers involved in preparations.
The President is expected to focus much of his speech on his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the President’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump are also scheduled to speak.

As we have for the past three nights, CNN is watching and fact-checking tonight’s remarks. Here’s what we found.

Outlining reasons why Americans should vote for President Donald Trump, White House social media director Dan Scavino said, “You know the President cannot be bought.”

Facts First: Trump has refused to release his tax returns, preventing the public from gaining a clear picture of his financial interests — including details of any outstanding debts.

Trump is the first President since Watergate not to divest his business interests while in office and the first President in decades not to release his tax records, which would offer the public a truer picture of his income and net worth.

His annual financial disclosures, which are self-reported and are not vetted by federal ethics officials, give only a veiled view into the President’s finances.

You can read more about Trump’s finances here.

— Tara Subramaniam and Maegan Vazquez


New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties in 2019 from Democratic to Republican, told a story about his political conversion. He said one of the reasons was that the Democratic Party had become “radical”: “Now they were for open borders.”

Facts First: This is false.

Democratic congressional leaders and the presidential candidates who were running for the Democratic nomination at the time of Van Drew’s party switch — including eventual nominee Joe Biden — simply did not and do not support completely unrestricted migration.

Daniel Dale


Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said, “Joe Biden let ISIS terrorists rampage across the Middle East. President Trump eliminated ISIS’s leader — and destroyed its caliphate.”

Facts First: Trump did preside over the destruction of ISIS’s so-called “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria and the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, Trump doesn’t deserve sole credit for the liberation of the caliphate.
The US was part of a multinational coalition President Barack Obama launched in 2014, and Kurdish forces did much of the ground fighting. In addition, it’s not true that the Obama administration simply let ISIS roam free.

Though the caliphate was indeed established under the Obama administration, Obama and Biden also presided over significant progress in retaking that territory.

It’s fair game for Cotton to fault the Obama administration for ISIS’s rise, though it’s worth noting the group emerged out of the instability following the invasion launched by Republican President George W. Bush. However, it’s inaccurate to suggest Obama and Biden did nothing about ISIS once it was formed.
IHS Markit, an information company that studied the changing the size of the caliphate, reported two days before Trump’s 2017 inauguration that the caliphate shrunk by 23% in 2016 after shrinking by 14% in 2015. “The Islamic State suffered unprecedented territorial losses in 2016, including key areas vital for the group’s governance project,” Columb Strack, senior analyst and head of the IHS Conflict Monitor, said in a statement at the time.
Under Trump, the military did kill ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.

— Daniel Dale

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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