Guidelines for approving a coronavirus vaccine will be the focus of FDA advisers meeting Thursday

The vaccine advisory committee, meeting remotely in an all-day session, will not review a specific vaccine because no company has applied for the FDA’s imprimatur. Rather, the group will provide views on the FDA’s standards governing whether a vaccine is sufficiently safe and effective to warrant an emergency use authorization. It will also weigh in on the conduct of clinical trials once a vaccine is cleared and monitoring safety on an ongoing basis.

Even a general discussion is an important milestone, especially after protracted political melodrama involving the vaccine review process, experts said.

“The visual of scientists sitting around the table carefully discussing what a safe and effective vaccine might look like is an important moment for the FDA,” said Jason L. Schwartz, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Yale School of Public Health. “For months, all the FDA could do was offer promises about how science would guide its decisions on the vaccine. This shows how that will happen as data begins to come in.”

The panel will offer the agency advice for navigating the “extraordinary and unprecedented steps” of clearing a vaccine on an emergency basis, said M. Miles Braun, former director of the FDA’s division of epidemiology and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, during a media briefing Wednesday. FDA officials will want to know they are “on firm ground, and not missing any issues,” Braun said.

The FDA has said it will hold additional advisory committee meetings to consider applications from vaccine makers, which could begin arriving as soon as mid-November.

The panel, called the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, is made up mostly of academic experts in infectious diseases, immunology and biostatistics. Some members recused themselves because they work at hospitals where coronavirus vaccine trials are being conducted or are involved in the trials. They were replaced by temporary members, including Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan epidemiologist who will serve as committee chairman, according to documents on the FDA website.

The FDA on Wednesday posted the topics it wants to discuss with the committee, including the effects of vaccines in specific populations. One of the most complicated questions centers on how to continue clinical trials after a vaccine is authorized. Should participants who received the placebo be notified and allowed to get the vaccine? If so, will that hurt the trial’s ability to collect useful data on an ongoing basis, and how can that be mitigated?

The FDA has used advisory committees for decades to bulk up its expertise and win buy-in from the public and outside scientists on its decisions. The FDA is not required to take advice from the panels but often does. The vaccine committee is expected to play an especially important role given the political pressure exerted by the White House on the FDA in recent weeks and months.

The White House held up the guidance, but the FDA circumvented the blockade by publishing it as part of briefing materials provided to the advisory committee for Thursday’s meeting. The White House subsequently cleared the guidelines.

When Thursday’s committee meeting was announced by the FDA in August, some administration critics worried the scheduled date was further evidence the agency was being pressured to advance a vaccine before Election Day, said Rachel Sachs, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“There was a lot of suspicion that the timing was motivated by the political calendar,” she said. But she added that FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and the agency’s career scientists have in recent weeks “done an admirable job of putting some distance between the FDA and the White House.”

Drug companies, working closely with the U.S. government and fueled by an infusion of more than $10 billion in taxpayer money, have developed a half-dozen vaccine candidates. None has been proved safe and effective. Once a company has gathered what it considers compelling evidence, the FDA review is expected to take a few weeks.

Before authorizing a vaccine, regulators will require the shot to be at least 50 percent effective, that at least five people receiving the placebo develop severe cases of covid-19 and that there be at least two months of follow-up on half of the study participants.

Two of the leading candidates are being tested by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotech company Moderna. Pfizer has projected having enough cases of covid-19 among study participants to assess the effectiveness of its vaccine in October and sufficient safety data to seek a regulatory okay by mid-November. Moderna will probably have 53 covid-19 cases among participants by November — enough for a first look at the data — with sufficient safety data reported just before Thanksgiving. Other vaccines are coming down the pipeline.

Carolyn Y. Johnson contributed to this report.

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Cheers and Jeers: Thursday

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, October 22, 2020

Note: Today is National Nut Day. So help yourself to the bowl of pistachios, almonds, walnuts, filberts, and Giulianis.

By the Numbers:

8 days…

Days ’til the next “blue moon”: 8

Percent chance that Trump’s campaign is floundering so badly that he’s sending Mike Pence to shore up support in Indiana: 100%

Percent of U.S. voters who favor a government health insurance plan anyone can buy (i.e. a “public option,” according to a new NYT/Siena College poll: 65%

Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) approval rating, per PPP polling: 42%

Iowans polled by PPP who believe the Senate should and should not, respectively, prioritize covid relief over the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation: 55%-32%

Estimated number of North Carolinians who have voted: 2 million

Years Tab was around before the diet soda was discontinued this year: 57

Major League World Series Championship

Tampa Bay Rays 6    Los Angeles Dodgers 4  

(Series is tied 1 game to 1)

Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Without fear of contradiction, I can say that George W. Bush has turned out to be a divider, not a uniter, for the past four years.

Sheesh, if we get any madder at each other there will be fisticuffs, brethren, I say fisticuffs.

Molly Ivins

Liberals, normally gentle as little kittens—usually you can go right up to ’em and touch their soft, curly fur, they don’t mind a bit – are in an alarming state of righteous anger. This time, they devoutly believe, jackbooted fascism is just around the corner. Not only do they think the Bill of Rights is being quietly dismantled, they are sentient enough to notice that our reputation around the world has gone from the instant support of Sept. 11 to disgust and fear.

Meanwhile, many evangelical Christians are convinced gay marriage is upon us and will be the end of civilization. How they convinced themselves George W. Bush is the Lord’s anointed is beyond me. I’ve known him since high school and watched him closely as a public official for 10 years, and I have yet to see the first sign of it.

October 2004

Puppy Pic of the Day: Mask Fail…

CHEERS to the final test of endurance. With a mere dozen days ’til voting ends, the final debate of 2020 happens tonight at Belmont University in Nashville starting at 9 ET. To prevent Trump’s obnoxious outbursts while Joe’s talking, moderator Kirsten Welker will mute one candidate while the other is talking. The topics: “Fighting COVID-19,” “American Families,” “Race in America,” “Climate Change,” “National Security” and “Leadership.” I think we know how this plays out: Joe will be cool, calm, informed and empathetic. Trump will…not.

CHEERS to nailing us some bad guys. Holy smokes, Bill Barr’s Justice Department actually did something useful. Six Russian military intelligence officers have been charged (though they’ll never see the inside of a U.S. courtroom) in connection with major hacking operation operations…

…from damaging Ukraine’s electrical grid to interfering in France’s election to spying on European investigations and more. The men work for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU—which also led Russian cyber-interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Justice Department officials said Moscow has only sustained or heightened its intensity of effort since then.

The first clue that convinced the feds they were up to no good: the being Russian intelligence officers part.

JEERS to another hold-your-breath-moment in American history. Okay, now this was a real crisis: on October 22, 1962 President Kennedy informed the world that the Soviet Union was building secret missile bases in Cuba:

He ordered our military to quarantine Cuba until Soviet premier Khrushchev agreed to shut ’em down. Kennedy negotiated his way through the melee without establishing a color-coded terror alert system, telling us to go shopping, abandoning our allies, or invading a country that had nothing to do with the crisis at hand.  And to think he called himself a leader.



CHEERS and JEERS to Ma Nature’s 2020/2021 playbook. We’ve heard from the Farmer’s Almanac, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the New Farmer’s Almanac, and the Almanac of Farmers Neither Old Nor New But Stuck In A Mid-Life Crisis. Now it’s time for the NOAA to guess what winter will bring to the US-of-A this season. Their Climate Prediction Center’s latest forecast, based on a months-long analyses of moss on trees, fuzz on wooly worms, and sweaters on local TV morning show meteorologists, is shaping up to be a mild one: 

Wetter-than-average conditions: Across the northern tier of the U.S., extending from the Pacific Northwest, across the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley, as well as Hawaii and northern Alaska.

Drier-than-average conditions: In the Southwest, across Texas along the Gulf Coast, and in Florida.

Temp forecast. My brain believes global warming is a bad thing. My fingers and toes disagree.

Above-average temperatures: Hawaii and most of Alaska, with more modest probabilities for above-average temperatures spanning large parts of the remaining lower 48 from the West across the South and up the eastern seaboard.

Below-average temperatures: Southern Alaska and from the northern Pacific Northwest into the Northern Plains. 

As usual, some predictions are harder to make than others.  For example, there’s a zero-percent chance of knowing actual snowfall amounts this far out, but there’s a 100 percent chance of knowing that climate-change deniers will scream “Global cooling!” every time a flake sticks to the pavement. C&J recommends you start assembling your winter management kit now: shovel, ice-melt pellets, blankets, candles, and earplugs.

CHEERS to Great Moments in Saying Stuff. 159 years ago this week, in 1861, the first coast-to-coast telegram was sent from Chief Justice Stephen Field in California to President Lincoln in Washington, D.C.  Field’s Message: “Could you find the whereabouts of Amanda Hugginkiss?” Lincoln‘s reply: “Nice try.”

Ten years ago in C&J: October 22, 2010

JEERS to Tales of the Batty Spouse.  The rich and privileged wife of the first Supreme Court Justice to have his porn collection inducted into the T&A Hall of Fame calls up one of her husband’s former female employees to demand she apologize and make it raaaaht!!!  The former employee’s offense: telling the truth under oath.  And in a related story, researchers in North Carolina have discovered a “tipsy gene” that, among other things, could lead to a cure for drunk-dialing.  Film at 11.

And just one more…

CHEERS to the world’s most lovable knucklehead.  Moe and Larry had their pluses, but The Three Stooges weren’t worth a poke in the eyes without Curly, aka Jerome Howard. He was hilarious while interacting with his co-stooges, but I think he was funniest during his more intimate solo comic moments, where he focused like a laser on getting a Moe-assigned task, like, say, stuffing a turkey, done perfectly…wrong.  Enjoy:

Happy 118th birthday, Curly, wherever you are.  And N’yuck N’yuck to Moe and Larry.

Have a nice Thursday. Floor’s open…What are you cheering and jeering about today?

Today’s Shameless C&J Testimonial

Trump can’t land a glove on a real man like Bill in Portland Maine

The Daily Beast

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Breaking New

Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Early lockdowns allowed much of Central Europe to avoid the widespread coronavirus infections that caused so much devastation in the first wave of the pandemic. But now, from the Polish port city of Gdansk on the Baltic to the ancient fortress town of Kotor on the Adriatic in Montenegro, the virus is moving across the region, setting new daily records for infections as the death toll steadily ticks upward.

Hospital beds are filling up in Poland; doctors in Hungary warn of a lack of medical workers; the authorities in Romania are struggling to track new cases; and health care workers are falling ill in Bulgaria. The Czech Republic has the highest coronavirus transmission rates in Europe.

There is particular concern about the damage the virus could sow in the former Communist countries of Central Europe, some of which have weak health care systems, critical shortages of doctors and nurses, and inadequate testing programs.

On the last day of questioning in Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, the future of the Affordable Care Act took center stage.

Judge Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had no “animus” toward the health care law nor an “agenda” to strike it down, despite President Trump’s stated desire that she do so when the court hears a challenge next month. Our Supreme Court correspondent writes that at certain points, the judge’s technical description appeared to argue in favor of leaving the A.C.A. intact. Read our highlights from the day.

G.O.P.: Republicans lauded the ascension of a conservative, religious judge. Senator Lindsey Graham praised her as “a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology.”

The Upshot: Judge Barrett has embraced a “supermom” image that endears her to some Americans while raising concerns about the role of working mothers among others.

Opinion: In Judge Barrett, our columnist Nicholas Kristof writes, Republicans are once again supporting a Supreme Court nominee who could take the U.S. backward.

Upstanding frills: Judge Barrett’s pumps and pearls help to present the nominee as the opposite of an extremist, writes our chief fashion critic — and an extremist is, of course, how the Democrats are trying to portray her.

In almost any given spot in central London, you’re never too far from a Pret A Manger shop — if not two dozen. The sandwich and coffee chain has become the go-to lunch spot for harried British office workers, seeping into cultural life with traditions like its Christmas sandwich and a policy that lets staff members give free coffee to people they like.

But with offices deserted because of the pandemic, Pret’s customers are nowhere to be seen. And what was formerly its greatest advantage — its central London stronghold — has suddenly become its biggest weakness.

Now, the company is willing to try almost anything to get back on its feet, including selling coffee beans on Amazon, moving to delivery and devising a special menu of hot evening meals, such as a chipotle chicken burrito bowl​. You can even get a coffee “subscription,” and the first month is free. “When you’re in survival mode,” its chief executive said, “you’ve got to try things.”

Quote: “I exist because of Pret’s oppressive ubiquity,” the satirical Albert-Camus-meets-Pret Twitter account @PretLEtranger posted last month. “There is no need for me now.”

Farmers in Mexico armed with sticks, rocks and homemade shields ambushed soldiers and seized La Boquilla Dam, above, to stop water deliveries to the United States. The farmers said the Mexican government was sending water — their water — to Texas, leaving them with next to nothing for their crops.

Our reporter looked at the standoff pitting Mexican farmers against their country’s president and the superpower across the border. The fight illustrates a growing conflict over increasingly scarce resources as a result of rising temperatures and long droughts, which have been caused by climate change.

Golden Dawn: An Athens court sentenced the leaders of the Greek neo-fascist party to 13 years in prison on Wednesday after declaring it a criminal organization last week, wrapping up one of the most important political trials in the country’s modern history.

Soccer: A proposal to dramatically restructure the English Premier League was unanimously rejected by its members. Across the Channel, France’s soccer federation hired a consultant to address complaints about a toxic workplace culture. And the incoherence of British government regulations is on full display in the “beautiful game,” writes our soccer correspondent.

BTS: South Korea’s most hotly anticipated initial public offering in years is centered on the K-pop superstar group and the $4 billion company that manages it, Big Hit Entertainment, which began trading in South Korea on Thursday.

Ikea idea: The Swedish furniture retailer has started a global campaign to buy back used furniture as part of its efforts to combat climate change and discourage excessive consumption.

Snapshot: Protesters in Bangkok on Wednesday, above, as the royal motorcade rolled by. After months of protests demanding reform, this was the first time that members of Thailand’s royal family had seen the frustration up close. The three-finger salute, taken from “The Hunger Games,” has become a symbol of the movement.

Lives Lived: Herbert Kretzmer, the London theater critic whose English-language lyrics for “Les Misérables” helped transform a little-known French musical into one of the world’s most successful theater productions, died at 95 on Wednesday.

What we’re reading: This Vice article on the growing appeal of desserts that are not too sweet. “I’m hoping this is the future,” writes Carole Landry of the Briefings team. “Let’s oppose the sugar bombs.”

Cook: James Beard’s onion sandwich is fresh and unfussy. Rolling the edge of the sandwich in chopped parsley gives it a retro styling touch, but it’s crucial for flavor, too.

Watch: The Netflix documentary “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” is a brief but endearing introduction to the idolized K-pop girl group.

Dance: Older adults who engage in ballroom dancing, folk dancing and other dance styles are less likely to fall than those who walk or do other exercises, researchers say. A strong argument for a bit of a boogie.

Let us help you beat boredom with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Recent case studies in which people have been reinfected by the coronavirus — among them a 25-year-old man in Nevada and an 89-year-old woman in the Netherlands — have led to concerns about repeat bouts of illness. But these cases are very, very rare. Here’s what you need to know.

Coronavirus reinfection is highly unusual. More than 38 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus, but fewer than five of those cases have been confirmed as reinfections. One virologist described it as “a microliter-sized drop in the bucket, compared to the number of cases that have happened all over the world.”

In most people, the immune system works as expected. Reinfections can occur for any number of reasons: because the initial infection was particularly mild, because the immune system was otherwise compromised or because the patient had been exposed to a large amount of the virus that seeded an infection before the immune response could take effect, to give three examples.

The same variability has been observed in patients with diseases like measles and malaria, experts said.

A second set of symptoms doesn’t prove reinfection. For every confirmed case, there are dozens of anecdotal reports of infected people who were sick and seemingly recovered but then became ill again weeks or months later. A vast majority of those cases are unlikely to be true reinfections. More likely, these are people experiencing a resurgence of symptoms connected to the original infection.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me.

— Natasha

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: ‘“In fact, that’s wrong”’ (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• A Utah man’s chance encounter with four baby cougars while hiking resulted in this hair-raising six minute video after their mother pursued him along the trail.
• Our executive editor, Dean Baquet, released a note in support of the Times Magazine’s 1619 Project.

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Breaking New

Europe’s Economy, German Police, China: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the challenges facing Europe’s economic recovery, a domestic abuse case in China that drew outrage and the German police officers suspended for sharing neo-Nazi propaganda.

Over the summer, European countries seemed poised for an economic revival after a historic plunge. The coronavirus seemed to have been successfully contained in many countries, while the promises of the European Central Bank, which vowed to do whatever it took to stabilize the economy and support lending, helped to inspire confidence.

But wider political concerns and the resurgence of the virus could undo much of that progress. The British government’s threats to abandon Europe without a deal governing future commercial relations would imperil its own economy, as well as those of its major European trading partners like the Netherlands, France and Spain.

At the same time, the virus is regaining strength, yielding an alarming increase of cases in Spain, France and Britain. In turn, consumers have scrapped holidays, limited their exposure to shopping areas and opted to economize in the face of threats to businesses and jobs, further imperiling recovery.

Quotable: “It’s hard to imagine a recovery that’s going to be strong and sustained given the current situation,” said one eurozone economist. “There’s not a lot of engines of growth.”

Here are our live updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • An experimental drug, a manufactured copy of an antibody produced by a patient who recovered from Covid-19, markedly reduced levels of the virus in newly infected patients and lowered the chances that they would need hospitalization, the drug’s maker, Eli Lilly, announced on Wednesday.

  • For the first time since it opened its doors in 1958, the Jerusalem Great Synagogue will remain shuttered over the Jewish High Holy Days due to a nationwide lockdown in Israel.

  • The coronavirus is the “No. 1 global security threat in our world today,” the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said Wednesday.

  • The U.S. says it plans to start distributing a vaccine within 24 hours of approval. The goal, according to federal officials, is that no American “has to pay a single dime” out of their own pocket.

The 126 images shared included swastikas, a fabricated picture of a refugee in a gas chamber and the shooting of a Black man, officials said. At a news conference on Wednesday, Herbert Reul, the interior minister of the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, described the images as “far-right extremist propaganda” and the “ugliest, most despicable, neo-Nazi immigrant-baiting.”

German politicians and security chiefs have long rejected the notion of far-right infiltration of the security services, speaking only of “individual cases.” But after the government disbanded an entire company of German special forces this summer because it was deemed to be infested with far-right extremists, the authorities have acknowledged the scale of the problem.

Footage of a man beating his wife so severely that she jumped from a second-floor window to escape failed to persuade a court in Henan Province to grant the woman, Liu Zengyan, a divorce. The court said that her husband had not agreed to the divorce and that the couple should seek mediation.

After Ms. Liu uploaded the video to WeChat, China’s dominant social media platform, thousands rallied to her defense, and a hashtag about her case was viewed more than a billion times on the microblogging site Weibo. News media interviews soon followed. Before long, a judge called Ms. Liu to say there was no need for mediation and the court would issue a verdict soon. In July, three weeks after she released the video, the divorce was granted.

The numbers: Two of the biggest issues for women in China are the prevalence of domestic violence and a legal system stacked against them. About one in four women has suffered physical or verbal abuse, or had her freedom restricted by her partner, according to a survey by the All-China Women’s Federation in 2011. Activists say the numbers are far higher.

To believe the legends, the giant stinging trees in the rainforests of eastern Australia drive men to madness and have even prompted horses to hurl themselves off cliffs. It’s not totally unfounded: The hypodermic-needle-like hairs of their leaves inject a toxin that can cause waves of pain for hours or days.

Years of experiments and countless stings later, a team of scientists has identified at least some of the ingredients that give the plants their extraordinarily painful punch — and they have a connection to spiders, among other stinging organisms.

Wildfires: Almost every continent has experienced its worst wildfires in decades this year. The common factor? Hotter, drier seasons, driven by the burning of fossil fuels.

Refugee camp fires: Four Afghan migrants were charged with arson on Wednesday for what the authorities said was their role in fires that destroyed most of a large migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Torture in Venezuela: U.N. investigators have implicated President Nicolás Maduro and other high-ranking officials in human rights abuses amounting to crimes against humanity, including killings, torture and sexual violence. The panel identified 45 officials in two intelligence agencies who should be investigated and prosecuted.

Snapshot: Above, floods in downtown Pensacola, Fla., after Hurricane Sally made landfall on Wednesday. The Category 2 storm brought heavy winds and flooding. Scientists say that climate change, which has also contributed to the wildfires on the West Coast, helped intensify the storm.

Melania Trump: A life-size wooden statue of the first lady, erected last year near her hometown in Slovenia, was set on fire in July. It has been replaced with a bronze replica intended to last a little longer.

Lives lived: The critic and essayist Stanley Crouch, who elevated the invention of jazz into a metaphor for the indelible contributions that Black people have made to American democracy, died at 74 on Wednesday at a hospital in New York City.

What we’re reading: The essay “Empire and Degradation” in The Baffler. “The world looks different to me after reading Isabel Wilkerson’s book ‘Caste,’ about how social hierarchies can use and enable viciousness,” writes Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor. “This examination of the colonial British abasement of Indian women fits right in.”

Listen: Among our collection of new and noteworthy audiobooks are several read by their authors, including Dan Rather’s “Stories of a Lifetime” and “Eat a Peach: A Memoir,” by David Chang.

Watch: “Goodfellas” and the other gangster movies of 1990 left unmistakable fingerprints on some of the most important films and television shows that followed.

There’s so much to read, cook, watch and do while staying at home. Our At Home section has many ideas on how to stay safe and have fun.

The Japanese Parliament on Wednesday officially elected Yoshihide Suga to be the prime minister, replacing Shinzo Abe, who led the country for nearly eight years. I talked to Motoko Rich, our Tokyo bureau chief, about the man taking the helm of the world’s third biggest economy.

Was Yoshihide Suga a well-known figure in Japan before becoming prime minister?

Motoko: Mr. Suga was the chief cabinet secretary, effectively the chief of staff, to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In that role, Mr. Suga gave two daily news conferences, so he is a familiar face on the news. He also gained prominence last year when he unveiled a calligraphic rendering of “Reiwa,” the name chosen for the incoming era of Emperor Naruhito, earning him the nickname Uncle Reiwa. There are spoofs all over the internet.

Do you sense any trepidation among the Japanese?

Mr. Abe resigned because of ill health, and he and the Liberal Democratic Party kingmakers effectively handed the reins to his right-hand man. Mr. Suga has said he will keep all of Mr. Abe’s signature policies in place. He has retained the majority of Mr. Abe’s cabinet. So in that sense, it is very much the status quo.

What will be his toughest challenge?

Like virtually every other leader in the world, he has to get the coronavirus under control and help a battered economy. But he also faces rising security threats from North Korea and China, Japan’s largest trading partner.

Then there are the long-term structural issues: a low birthrate, an aging population, climate change and women who had been promised empowerment under Mr. Abe but are still waiting on many fronts.

And his first order of business?

To try to get the economy back on its feet. And to decide whether to call a snap election that could consolidate his power and give him a chance at being more than a caretaker leader.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a wonderful Thursday.

— Natasha

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about coronavirus quarantines on U.S. college campuses.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Apples and oranges” (Five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The word “gympietides” — a tiny, pain-causing molecule — appeared in The Times for the first time on Tuesday, according to the Twitter account @NYT_first_said.
• Marc Lacey, our National editor, and Shreeya Sinha, our outgoing national operations director for audience growth, wrote about the mission statement shared by the team of 45 journalists covering U.S. news.

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Belarus, Coronavirus, Barack Obama: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering early mishandling of the coronavirus by local Chinese officials, E.U. leaders’ rejection of Belarus’s election results and the return of Barack Obama to the national stage.

For months, a global backlash has built against China over its handling of the coronavirus crisis.

But a new U.S. intelligence report concludes that top officials in Beijing were in the dark in early January and that it was local officials in Wuhan and in Hubei Province who had tried to hide information from central leadership.

The internal report, a consensus of the C.I.A. and other agencies, could lead to a shift in U.S. policy on China and how we talk about the virus’s timeline. It is also consistent with assessments by experts of China’s opaque governance system.

Details: Local officials often withhold information from Beijing for fear of reprisal, current and former American officials say.

Impact: “It makes a huge difference if it was Wuhan or Beijing,” said Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who informally advises President Trump. It could give American officials a push to try to engage in good-faith negotiations with Beijing, he said.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • The number of cases worldwide has exceeded 22 million, according to a New York Times database. More than 780,000 people have died.

  • Finland, where total cases number 7,805, announced new restrictions on incoming travelers from Iceland, Greece, Malta, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, San Marino and Japan, starting Monday.

  • The head of the organization responsible for approving vaccines in Germany expects the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine to be available in the country by the beginning of next year.

  • Britain announced a rapid expansion of one of its testing programs, which selects a random sample of the population regardless of symptoms.

  • At $30 billion, South Africa’s stimulus package is the largest relief effort in its history as the country struggles with almost 600,000 coronavirus cases. But the government’s efforts have been plagued by accusations of fraud and mismanagement.

They did not call explicitly for another election, which the country’s opposition wants, but offered to “accompany a peaceful transition of power in Belarus.”

Official remarks: Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said that any resolution of the crisis “must be found in Belarus, not in Brussels or in Moscow.” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said it would “repurpose” $63 million in assistance away from the Belarusian government toward victims of the violence, “civil society and independent media” and the fight against the coronavirus.

What this means: While anxious to defend democratic values, Europe’s leaders are treading carefully to avoid providing a pretext for further state violence or for a Russian intervention. The E.U.’s ability to enforce its demands is thin — no European country is going to go to war over Belarus, and relatively harsh sanctions against Belarus and Russia are already in place.

It took Apple 42 years to reach $1 trillion in value — and just two more to get to $2 trillion, reaching that milestone on Wednesday, when shares climbed 1.4 percent to $468.65 in midday trading.

Apple is the first U.S. company to reach a $2 trillion valuation, capping a staggering ascent that began during the pandemic and cementing its place as the world’s most valuable public company.

The pandemic has been a bonanza for the tech giants. Stock prices of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet have soared since the Federal Reserve announced measures to calm investors in March.

In June, two German tourists took a dip in the Grand Canal in Venice. Last month, an Austrian tourist broke the toe of a plaster statue of Napoleon’s sister in an Italian museum, and this month, a French tourist used a black felt-tip pen to immortalize her stay in Florence on the city’s famed Ponte Vecchio.

Foreign tourism in Italy has dropped by the double digits this year — delivering a significant blow to the country’s economy — but Italians say that shouldn’t give tourists license to run amok, and officials are trying to put tougher punishments in place. “We’re not in the Wild West,” one said.

U.S. presidential campaign: Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden for president and Senator Kamala Harris accepted the nomination for vice president. Former President Barack Obama also spoke on Wednesday, saying the Trump administration would “tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win.”

Mali: Military leaders behind the coup that toppled the country’s leaders vowed to hold new elections. The streets of Bamako, the capital, exploded with both jubilation and gunfire after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and his prime minister, Boubou Cissé, were detained.

Snapshot: Above, Venezuelan police officers arrested people for gathering in the street in late July. Nicolás Maduro’s government is detaining thousands to halt the spread of the coronavirus — as well as doctors who question his policies on the virus — and marking the homes of people believed to have been infected.

What we’re reading: This Washington Post article about ditching “toxic positivity” and grappling with negative emotions. A good reminder that everything doesn’t have to be OK.

Cook: If you’re tired of tuna, this chickpea salad sandwich is just the thing.

Go: This was supposed to be the year of Raphael. Five hundred years after the Renaissance artist’s death, the museum shows, conferences and lectures have gone virtual.

Watch: These animated series depict the richness and complexities of Black families.

There are endless possibilities for entertaining and nurturing yourself and your family safely. At Home has our full collection of ideas.

Iran, a country hit early and hard by the coronavirus, is in the midst of a second wave.

The country’s Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that it had reached 20,000 deaths from the virus, but health experts inside and outside Iran, and even members of Parliament, suggest that the number may be many times higher. Jonathan Wolfe, who writes our coronavirus newsletter, spoke to Farnaz Fassihi, who covers Iran for The Times.

What’s the situation in Iran?

It’s very bad. The country’s in the thick of a second surge worse than the first one, in March. A majority of provinces, including the capital, are “red zones.” Doctors are saying hospitals and I.C.U. beds are full. Meanwhile, there are some restrictions for public gatherings but, generally, it’s open for business.

Even by the government’s own numbers, cases are on the rise. What happened?

They opened too soon. When the virus first arrived in the country, they closed down for just two weeks during the New Year holiday in mid-March. They didn’t meet any of the benchmarks when they opened. There’s no contact tracing. There’s no quarantine.

What is the mood among Iranians?

In the early months, people were very scared. They were self-isolating and staying home and not sending their kids to school, even when the schools were still open. But I think, as time has passed, like a lot of places, we see that people are getting more reckless.

There’s also a nuanced dynamic. This is a government that for 40 years has told people what to do, how to dress, how to behave — and many people’s mind-set is to always defy what the government says. So now, when the government tells them, “Stay home, wear a mask,” they’re like: “No. We don’t trust you. And you don’t tell us what to do.”

And so for Iran, I think the challenge to contain a pandemic may be greater than other countries because the government is dealing with 70 million people whose default mode is to defy it.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Isabella and Natasha

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at


• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about what recent cuts to the U.S. Postal Service mean ahead of a presidential election.

• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Another name for our sun (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.

• The Times introduced the Headway initiative, a philanthropy-funded project that will task a team of journalists with investigating national and global challenges.

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Breaking New

Vaccine, U.S.-China, Mars: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a $2 billion U.S. contract for a potential vaccine, escalating U.S.-China hostilities and the summer of Mars.

No vaccine has yet been developed, and it is not clear whether the Pfizer version will work. But if the vaccine being produced by Pfizer and BioNTech proves to be safe and effective in clinical trials, the companies say they could manufacture those first 100 million doses by the end of the year.

The contract is part of the White House’s effort to drastically shorten the time to manufacture and distribute a working vaccine. Europe has a parallel effort underway.

In other virus developments:

Here are the latest updates and maps tracking the pandemic.

China vowed to retaliate after the U.S. abruptly ordered Beijing to close its consulate in Houston and accused diplomats of aiding economic espionage and the attempted theft of scientific research. The Chinese denied the allegations and called the closure illegal.

It’s the summer of the Red Planet: China has launched an orbiter, a lander and a rover to Mars.

Beijing is eager to show that it can manage complex interplanetary missions. Landing on Mars is a feat that only the U.S. and the Soviet Union have achieved before.

The Chinese launch follows the successful launch of a spacecraft built by the United Arab Emirates, which took off on Monday from Japan. A third mission — NASA’s Perseverance rover — is scheduled to launch next week.

The three are taking advantage of the brief window every 26 months or so when Earth and Mars are closer than usual. If all take off successfully, they should arrive at Mars in February.

Diane von Furstenberg’s glamorous personal brand has masked the fact that her fashion line had been losing money for years.

Since the pandemic struck, she has had to move to protect her French and British operations. Now, she is making plans to close 18 of her 19 remaining directly operated U.S. stores.

“There’s no shame in admitting you are in trouble,” Ms. von Furstenberg said. “Corona hits someone a lot worse if they have a precondition.”

Tesla profits: Helped by growing sales in Europe and China, Tesla reported a profit of $104 million in its latest quarter. The results surprised analysts who expected the electric carmaker to lose money amid the coronavirus pandemic and set it up for another milestone: potential inclusion in the S&P 500 index.

Wirecard charges: The former chief executive of Wirecard was arrested on new charges after prosecutors in Munich said they had uncovered evidence that the insolvent payments company had used false accounting to defraud creditors of $3.7 billion.

U.S.-U.K. loophole: Britain and the U.S. agreed to end a legal technicality that allowed an American woman to flee Britain after she was involved in a car accident that killed a teenager almost a year ago.

Snapshot: Above, demolition work at the Bui Chu Cathedral in Vietnam. The 135-year-old church, considered by many an architectural gem, is being destroyed to make room for a bigger cathedral despite last-ditch efforts to save it.

Back to work, briefly: Prince Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain who retired from public life in 2017, briefly stepped back into his life of royal duty to hand over a role he has held for nearly seven decades. Philip bestowed on Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the post of Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles, the British Army’s largest infantry regiment.

Liverpool celebrates: Fans were not allowed inside to watch Liverpool’s players lift the Premier League trophy, but the show that took place was still joyful.

In memoriam: Tony Elliott, who started the Time Out global publishing empire in his mother’s London kitchen in 1968, died on July 16 in London at age 73. “His thing was, ‘I had one idea, but it was a good one,’” his widow said.

What we’re reading: This commentary in MEL on the lip-biting selfies of Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “Hamilton.” Taylor Lorenz, a Styles reporter, calls it “an astute critique of the lip bite as a selfie pose and a great explanation of a meme that’s become inescapable on TikTok this week. And yes, there’s already a Lin-Manuel Miranda lip-bite face mask.”

Cook: This sheet-pan fish with chard and spicy red pepper relish combines a piquant, fiery relish with a tender white fish and leafy greens for an easy meal.

Watch: A soundstage production from Erykah Badu and a Norah Jones “mini-concert” are on our list of the best virtual concerts online.

Read: The latest crop of horror fiction includes “Malorie” — Josh Malerman’s sequel to “Bird Box” — as well as “Mexican Gothic,” “Wonderland” and more.

We may be venturing outside, but we’re still spending lots of time indoors. At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do to make it fun.

For adults, the pandemic upended life. But children are adaptable. Our Parenting site took a look at how kids are making the coronavirus part of playtime. Here’s an edited excerpt:

Nicole Campoy Jackson said her 4-year-old son, Finn, was planning what he calls a “Goodbye Germs” party, an all-out celebration of when the pandemic has passed. “We have our menu. He wants to have pizza. And anytime I get something new that’s really good,” said Ms. Jackson, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., “if it’s something delicious, he’ll say ‘Oh, we gotta save this for the ‘Goodbye Germs’ party.’”

Finn and his mother also pass the time — and these days, there’s a lot of it — by doing what we all want to do from time to time: closing the windows and screaming at the top of their lungs. “We get really loud and angry and we point to a window and yell, ‘Germs, you get outta here!’” Ms. Jackson said.

Taking out frustrations about the virus by incorporating it into a make-believe world is something Jacob Krantz, 3, and his mother, Jessica, have also embraced. The two recently joined forces as The Incredibles — mother as Elastigirl, son as Dash — attacking a supervillain known as the coronavirus.

“That day, just out of the blue, he was like, ‘Let’s go save the world, we’re going to kill coronavirus,’” Ms. Krantz said. Jacob announced his plans by saying, “First we kill the virus, then we kill the germs, then we kill the colds.”

Sandra Russ, a professor and psychologist, said studies had shown children in pediatric hospitals who incorporate their experience into play — by performing “surgery” on their stuffed animals, for example — experience less anxiety than those who do not.

“For most kids, this is a healthy and normal way for them to deal with scary things that are going on in their world,” she said. “This is the new monster.”

That’s it for this briefing. Need a good book? Zadie Smith’s latest is a slim collections of essays. See you next time.

— Victoria

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the plans to reopen schools in the U.S.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Blow smoke (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times named Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer, as its next chief executive, succeeding Mark Thompson.

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Breaking New

House slates Iran War Powers resolution vote for Thursday

“Today, to honor our duty to keep the American people safe, the House will move forward with a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran,” Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. She argued Trump “has made clear that he does not have a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe, achieve deescalation with Iran and ensure stability in the region.”

“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy,” Pelosi wrote.

The resolution, sponsored by freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst, will be considered by the Rules Committee to set the parameters for the debate on Wednesday night.

The decision to move forward with the bill follows Pelosi’s initial announcement over the weekend that the House would take up a measure similar to one introduced in the Senate by Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, which calls for the removal of US armed forces from hostilities with Iran not authorized by Congress.
Earlier Wednesday, Democratic leaders were uncertain that the resolution would be ready for a floor vote this week, saying members were still finalizing the draft. Also at issue was whether to include two separate bills in the effort — one, sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna of California to block funding for a war against Iran, and another led by Rep. Barbara Lee, also of California, to repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq that the Trump administration has pointed to in the aftermath of its strike on top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

Khanna and Lee’s bills were both included in the House-passed version of this year’s Defense Authorization Act, but they were later stripped from the language after negotiations with the Republican-held Senate. Pelosi left the door open to holding separate votes on the bills in the future, indicating in her statement they won’t be included in the resolution itself.

Her announcement came after top administration officials — including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, CIA Director Gina Haspel and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire — briefed members from both parties about the situation Wednesday afternoon.

Some Democrats were still hesitant about supporting War Powers legislation after Tuesday night’s strikes by Iran, but any doubt evaporated after hearing the argument presented by the officials Wednesday, a source in the room said, adding that Democrats left the room incensed.

At the House briefing, the administration failed to convince congressional Democrats that the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force provided the legal authorization to conduct the strike that killed Soleimani, reaffirming the belief among several lawmakers that a legislative option like Lee’s bill must also be put on the floor as soon as possible, sources familiar with the meeting told CNN.

Details of the administration’s legal argument remain unclear, but it broadly hinges on the same argument used by the Obama administration to conduct operations against ISIS — a provision stating the President is authorized to use military force to defend the US against “the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

US national security adviser Robert O’Brien told reporters last week that the killing of Soleimani was “fully authorized” under the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

During the briefing, Democrats also pressed officials for evidence behind the claim that Soleimani posed an imminent threat to US interests, with Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, even noting that Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayotallah Ali Khamenei, had not signed off on the attacks Soleimani had been plotting, per sources present. Schiff’s spokesman declined to comment.

The officials provided lawmakers with a general timeframe of when Soleimani’s attacks against US interests in Iraq and in the region had been planned, and Haspel detailed Soleimani’s long history of violence against American interests. While Republicans praised the White House’s handling of the situation after the briefing, Democrats were unimpressed.

“It was pretty unsatisfactory on the detail and lack of concrete plans,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida Democrat, said. “We did not get an answer as what the imminent threat was, and why now,” she added.

Senate Democrats are also hoping to proceed quickly with Kaine’s version of the War Powers resolution regarding Iran. He told CNN on Wednesday that he hopes to see action on it in the Senate as soon as next week, although the timeline may be complicated by the impending impeachment trial. As a privileged resolution, Kaine will be able to force a vote on the bill without support from Republican leaders.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill invoke the War Powers Act, otherwise known as the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The War Powers Resolution stipulates parameters of presidential and congressional war powers, including imposing procedural requirements to ensure that presidents keep Congress apprised of military decisions as well as provisions that provide Congress with a mechanism to suspend military operations initiated by the President in certain circumstances.

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb, and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

Fight forces CT Post Mall to close for the night Thursday | News

MILFORD, CT (WFSB) – A large fight involving young adults at the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford is under investigation. 

Officers were called to the mall around 6 p.m. after the large fight started happening. 

Police said there were eight officers hired by the mall for private duty. When the fight started, the officers became overwhelmed and had to call for backup. 

The fight has forced officers to close the mall for the remainder of the night. 

Everyone was out of the mall around 8:30 p.m. 

Police said the fight started in the food court and spread throughout the mall. 

“I’ve never seen so many people run so fast ever in my life. It was so crazy,” said Monae Moye, an eyewitness. 

Extra buses were brought to the mall to bring people out of the area quickly. 

No arrests have been made at this time, but police said they will be reviewing footage and if anyone is recognized, charges could be filed. 

“If you put this many kids unsupervised in an area, the result to me is not surprising,” said Officer Michael DeVito, Milford Police Department. 

Police said there have been posts on social media about meeting to fight at the malls. 

“Meeting up to pop off and cause as much trouble as possible is some of the stuff we saw,” DeVito said. 

There was a fight at the Westfarms Mall, which led to the arrest of a juvenile. 

This comes just one month after curfews were implemented at the Brass Mill Center in Waterbury and the Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester. 

It is also the 1-year anniversary of a large fight at the CT Post Mall. 

Police did not say if curfews will be implemented going forward. 

“We thought it would be advantageous for everyone if they followed the other malls. We thought that was the direction it was going in. Unfortunately, they decided they would go in a different direction,” DeVito said. 

No injuries were reported during the fights. 

CT Post Mall released a statement following the fight saying, 

“Just before 6:00pm tonight, the mall was closed due to the large number of unattended juveniles disrupting The Post’s family-oriented business environment. Because the safety and security of our shoppers, employees and retailers is our top priority, we worked closely and in full cooperation with Milford PD and other local law enforcement to clear mall common areas. Stores with exterior entrances remained open, including Macy’s, Boscov’s, Target, Cinemark, Dave & Buster’s, LA Fitness, Dick’s, Bar Louie, Guacamole’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. Connecticut Post Mall is committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for all our guests. We will continue wo work diligently with local law enforcement to prevent future incidents. We are reviewing our policy regarding juvenile patrons and will make any necessary modifications needed to provide a safe and comfortable shopping environment.”

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Breaking New

Atatiana Jefferson’s funeral to be held Thursday, family attorney says

The services will begin at 11 a.m. (noon ET) at Concord Church in Dallas, family attorney Lee Merritt said.

Among those arriving early were a couple dozen Fort Worth police officers, who Police Chief Ed Kraus told CNN had been invited by the family. The officers are wearing light blue ribbons in to honor Jefferson.

A judge, however, ruled this week that her father, Marquis Jefferson, had the authority to arrange her funeral and burial after the father sought a temporary restraining order, saying he would suffer “immediate and irreparable injury” if his daughter’s aunt buried Atatiana without his participation.

Despite the court battle, Marquis Jefferson has a good relationship with his daughter’s mother and siblings, who use the surname, Carr, according to his spokesman, Bruce Carter.

“The Carr family is invited. There is room for them. They are more than welcome. They’ll be respected. They’ll be treated with dignity, and that’s what should happen,” Carter said.

Shot while playing with her nephew

Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, one of two policemen who responded to the neighbor’s call to check on Jefferson’s house, has been charged with murder. He has resigned from the force. Jim Lane, his attorney, declined to comment on the case.

The shooting left the community shaken. Aside from the optics of a police officer shooting a woman in her own home, Dean is white, and Atatiana Jefferson was black.

Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her nephew when the two officers arrived on October 12.

As officers walked outside the house around 2:30 a.m., Jefferson heard noises in the backyard, pulled a gun from her purse and pointed it toward the window, police said.

Dean yelled, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” before he fired through the window, killing Jefferson, body camera footage shows.

The officers had not identified themselves as law enforcement.

A week after the shooting, a small group of protesters marched in Fort Worth to decry Jefferson’s killing, according to CNN affiliate KTVT.

“It cannot continue to remain corrupt. It cannot continue to treat one community better than another community,” Kyev Tatum of New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church told demonstrators.

Remembering a woman who loved her family

Jefferson had recently moved home to Fort Worth to take care of her ailing mother. That night, she was looking after her nephew while her mother was in the hospital.

Amber Carr, Jefferson’s older sister, said her son shared a special bond with his “Aunt Tay,” who taught him life skills, such as keeping schedules and how best to prepare for school.

Jefferson had been looking forward to taking her nephews to the State Fair of Texas while Carr recovered from heart surgery.

“The relationship she has with my sons is indescribable,” Carr said. “Sometimes people think that they’re her kids, not mine.”

Jefferson’s father added, “Tay was love. And that smile? Lord have mercy, it could brighten up any room.”

Jefferson loved helping others, her family said. She graduated with a pre-med degree in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014 and was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt said.

CNN’s Ashley Killough, Madeline Holcombe and Amir Vera contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

Trump made 40 false claims last Thursday — 30 at his Dallas campaign rally alone

This was equal-opportunity deception. Trump made 17 false claims about military matters, 17 related to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, 15 about the economy and 12 about trade. He treated a visitor to the White House, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, to 25 false claims in their consecutive joint interactions with the media.

Trump made it hard to pick a most egregious false claim about Syria and Turkey. Among other things, he claimed that troops he is sending from Syria to elsewhere in the Middle East are coming “home,” that the Kurdish PKK is a more severe terror threat than ISIS, and that his narrow, concessionary ceasefire deal with Turkey had been sought by other administrations for 10 years or 15 years.

We think this one was the worst: As Turkey attacked Kurdish areas of northeast Syria, Trump said, “In the meantime, our soldiers are not in harm’s way — as they shouldn’t be — as two countries fight over land that has nothing to do with us. And the Kurds are much safer right now, but the Kurds know how to fight.”

The Kurds were obviously not at all safer.

The most revealing false claim: Obama and HIV/AIDS

Near the end of his rally speeches, Trump usually repeats a scripted promise about how his administration is going to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US in 10 years or less.

In Dallas, he attached something new to the pledge: a groundless attack on his predecessor.

“The previous administration spent no money on that,” he said.

Trump has seemed particularly fixated on former President Barack Obama over the last two weeks, baselessly suggesting there is something nefarious about Obama’s post-presidency deal with Netflix and making things up about Obama’s dealings with North Korea.

The HIV/AIDS claim was not even close to true. The Obama administration spent billions on anti-HIV/AIDS efforts — $10.8 billion on domestic HIV/AIDS research between the 2013 fiscal year and 2016 fiscal year alone, according to a review by the Kaiser Family Foundation, plus $85.1 billion more on domestic HIV/AIDS care, housing and prevention programs in those four years, plus $26 billion on global programs over the same period.

The most absurd false claim: The Gloria story

Trump lies for strategic purposes, systematically attempting to reframe reality to his own political advantage. He also just says little incorrect things for no particular reason because he doesn’t care to check if they’re true.

Welcoming the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues to the White House on October 15, Trump told the fun story about how the 1982 Laura Branigan hit “Gloria” became the team’s victory song in 2019. He explained, reading from a text, that it all started when the Blues beat the Philadelphia Flyers in January. He added the Flyers “were hot” at the time.

The Flyers had lost six consecutive games.

Here is this week’s full list of 87, starting with the ones we haven’t included in a weekly update before:

The Ukraine scandal and impeachment

Ukraine and “the server”

“Where is the server? I want to see the server. Let’s see what’s on the server. So, the server, they say, is held by a company whose primary ownership individual is from Ukraine. I’d like to see the server.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella
Facts First: Trump appeared to be referring to CrowdStrike, a publicly traded cybersecurity firm that was hired to investigate the hack of DNC servers in 2016. The company was co-founded by Dmitri Alperovitch, an American citizen who was born in Russia, not Ukraine. There is no evidence that any physical DNC server is currently being “held” by CrowdStrike.

CrowdStrike — which, like former special counsel Robert Mueller, attributed the hack to Russia — said in a previous statement: “With regards to our investigation of the DNC hack in 2016, we provided all forensic evidence and analysis to the FBI. As we’ve stated before, we stand by our findings and conclusions that have been fully supported by the US Intelligence community.”

Tom Bossert, Trump’s former homeland security adviser, said on ABC in September that he was frustrated by the “conspiracy theory,” adding: “It’s not only a conspiracy theory. It is completely debunked.”

CrowdStrike has been hired by Republicans as well as Democrats. It has been paid during Trump’s presidency by the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee, public records show.

Schiff’s immunity

“I understand he has immunity, but he doesn’t have immunity when he puts it on his Twitter, which he did.” — October 18 teleconference with participants of first all-female spacewalk on International Space Station

Facts First: The constitutional provision that gives Schiff immunity from prosecution over his comments in a congressional committee hearing also gives him immunity over his tweet of a video of those comments, experts say.

As the Congressional Research Service explains, the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause has been interpreted “to include all ‘legislative acts’ undertaken by Members or their aides,” including their committee activities.

“The protection clearly extends to the offending Tweets,” said William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University.

Republicans and impeachment

“Republicans are totally deprived of their rights in this Impeachment Witch Hunt. No lawyers, no questions, no transparency!” — October 16 tweet
Facts First: As CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju noted last week, “Republicans have been able to ask questions to all the witnesses in the closed-door depositions. Each side alternates and asks questions, and the depositions have lasted roughly 8-10 hours.
Republicans do not have guaranteed “rights” to call or cross-examine witnesses as part of an impeachment process in the House of Representatives. A president who has been impeached cannot be removed from office without a trial in the Senate, but the House does not need to hold anything like a trial before doing the impeaching.

A quote from Jason Chaffetz

“‘Because the House has already voted against the Impeachment Proceeding, the current inquiry is totally invalid. The current sham of a so-called investigation is nothing more than an unconstitutional power grab. It needs to end.’ @JasonChaffetz @seanhannity Corrupt Adam Schiff” — October 18 tweet

Facts First: We give Trump latitude to make minor errors when he is quoting people, but we think it counts as a false claim when he makes changes and omissions that significantly alter the meaning of the quote. In this case, Trump left out an important qualifier from Chaffetz, the former Republican congressman.

Chaffetz actually said the following: “Because the House has already voted against an impeachment proceeding, the current inquiry is totally invalid unless another formal vote is held.” Trump left out the “unless another formal vote is held” — thus erasing Chaffetz’s suggestion that the inquiry could become valid in the future.

The whistleblowers being ‘all gone’

“Where is the Whistleblower, or the 2nd Whistleblower, or the ‘informant?’ All gone because their so-called story didn’t come even close to matching up with the exact transcript of the phone call.” — October 20 tweet
Facts First: There is no evidence that either the first whistleblower (who filed the complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine) or the second whistleblower (whose lawyer said they have first-hand information corroborating claims made by the first whistleblower) are now somehow “gone,” let alone that they are “gone” because of the first whistleblower was shown to be inaccurate.
“The whistleblowers have not vanished,” Bradley Moss, a colleague of Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the two whistleblowers, said on Twitter.

Paul Ryan and subpoenas

“And the Republicans have been treated very unfairly by the Democrats. I’ll say this: Paul Ryan would never issue a subpoena. I don’t say right or wrong. He wouldn’t do it. He had too much respect for our country.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: As noted, numerous Republican subpoenas were issued to the Obama administration during Paul Ryan’s tenure as Speaker of the House.

A Fox News poll

“The Fox Impeachment poll has turned out to be incorrect. This was announced on Friday. Despite this, the Corrupt New York Times used this poll in one of its stories, no mention of the correction which they knew about full well! ‘Fox News Pollster Braun Research Misrepresented Impeachment Poll: Analysis’ @NYPost” — October 14 tweet
“Just another FAKE SUPPRESSION POLL, this time from @FoxNews, of course!” — October 19 tweet
Facts First: There was no announcement that the poll — which found 51% support for impeaching and removing Trump — was “incorrect.” Trump may have been referring to the New York Post article that criticized the poll, but that is far from the official announcement Trump seemed to be suggesting exists. And there is no evidence that the poll was intentionally designed to suppress Trump’s support.
The argument from the Post and from Trump aide Kellyanne Conway was that the pollsters surveyed too many Democrats. Others disagree. (Here’s CNN’s Chris Cillizza on why the sample makes sense.) Regardless, the pollster did not announce some sort of error.

It’s also worth noting that the Post, and Trump in quoting the Post, misidentified the pollster. The poll was jointly conducted by Democratic firm Beacon Research and Republican firm Shaw & Company Research. Braun Research was hired to do the fieldwork of contacting the participants; it did not design the poll.

Dana Blanton, Fox News vice president of public opinion research, said in a statement to CNN: “Our polling unit has long been held in high regard for being a nonpartisan source of research. Under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), the latest FNC poll included interviews with randomly chosen registered voters and — as is our standard practice — we reported the partisan distribution we found among the electorate. Braun Research is solely our data collection partner. We stand by our latest poll.”

Turkey and Syria

A quote from Mark Esper

“‘The ceasefire is holding up very nicely. There are some minor skirmishes that have ended quickly. New areas being resettled with Kurds. U.S. soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zone. We have secured the Oil.’ Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense. Ending endless wars!” — October 20 tweet

Facts First: This was the second version of this tweet; the first, which Trump deleted, wrongly referred to Mark Esper as “Mark Esperanto.” The second version of the tweet, however, was also incorrect: Esper did not say all of the words Trump attributed to him, at least not in public.

Esper had told reporters en route to Afghanistan: “Well, I think overall the ceasefire generally seems to be holding. We see a stabilization of the lines, if you will, on the ground. And we do get reports of intermittent fires, this and that. It doesn’t surprise me necessarily. But that’s what we’re picking up.”

The transcript shows no Esper comments about oil or Kurds. Idrees Ali, a Reuters reporter traveling with Esper, said there were no such comments.

Trump has a history of misusing or sloppily using quotation marks, repeatedly inserting his own comments into supposed quotes from other people without distinguishing between the two.

The deal with Turkey

“This outcome is something they’ve been trying to get for 10 years — everybody — and they couldn’t get it, other administrations. And they never would’ve been able to get it unless you went somewhat unconventional. I guess I’m an unconventional person.” And: “We’ve tried — we have tried, but everybody has tried to make this deal for 15 years.” And: “Because the conventional solution is to sit down, negotiate, and they’ve done that for 15 years. Actually more than that, I understand. And that was never going to work.” — October 17 exchange with reporters upon Air Force One arrival in Texas
“This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this ‘Deal’ for many years.” — October 17 tweet

“…it was unconventional, but they fought for a few days and it was pretty vicious — the Kurds, who are our friends; Turkey’s our friend; but they fought. It was tougher, I mean it was nasty, and you couldn’t make a deal for 15, think of it, for 15 years, 20 years, they couldn’t make a deal.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

“This is a deal that should have been made 15 years ago, 10 years ago, over the last number of years, under the Obama administration.” — October 18 exchange with reporters at teleconference with participants of first all-female spacewalk on International Space Station

Facts First: Trump’s claims are baseless to the point of being nonsensical. The deal is a narrow agreement specifically tied to the Turkish offensive that followed Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from a Kurdish-held region of northern Syria, not an agreement that resolves longstanding regional disputes. Further, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush never sought to give Turkey anything like the concessionary terms of Trump’s deal. In addition, the Syrian civil war had not even started 10 years ago or 15 years ago.

You can read a longer fact check here.

Soldiers being withdrawn from Syria

“We’re bringing our soldiers back home, and we’ve done a great job.” — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella
Facts First: The soldiers are not being brought “home,” at least not yet. Trump announced last Monday that “United States troops coming out of Syria will now redeploy and remain in the region to monitor the situation and prevent a repeat of 2014, when the neglected threat of ISIS raged across Syria and Iraq.” He also announced that 1,800 more troops would be deployed to Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan’s comments

Question: “Are you okay with (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan saying that he is not going to do a ceasefire?” Trump: “He didn’t say that at all. He’s meeting. And he’s meeting today with some of our representatives.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: Erdogan had indeed said that: “‘Declare a ceasefire, they say.’ We will never declare a ceasefire,” Erdogan told reporters on October 15.

The Kurds’ safety

“In the meantime, our soldiers are not in harm’s way — as they shouldn’t be — as two countries fight over land that has nothing to do with us. And the Kurds are much safer right now, but the Kurds know how to fight.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: It is clearly not true that the Kurds were safer “right now” — after US troops vacated their positions in northern Syria, after Turkey began its bombardment and before a ceasefire was announced — than they had been before. More than 160,000 Kurds were displaced by the Turkish offensive, according to the United Nations.
The Kurdish Red Crescent said in a Monday statement: “Since the ceasefire, we documented 21 civilians dead and 27 injured.” The Red Crescent said the total would rise.

The PKK and ISIS

“Now, the PKK, which is a part of the Kurds, as you know, is probably worse at terror and more of terrorist threat, in many ways, than ISIS.” — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: Though the US government does consider the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a terrorist entity, the government and independent experts consider ISIS as a much more dangerous and much more global threat. ISIS has also undertaken many more attacks.

“The PKK is a domestic Turkish terrorist organization that’s focused exclusively on its struggle for Kurdish independence from Turkey,” said Bryan Gibson, an expert on Kurdistan and assistant professor of history at Hawaii Pacific University. “It has never posed a threat to the US nor has it specifically targeted Americans…ISIS is a global terrorist organization, which has specifically targeted Americans in terrorist attacks, fought a war with the US, and continues to pose a clear and present danger to Americans at home and abroad.”

As The New York Times reported, a database of terror attacks maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland counts 2,455 PKK attacks since the organization was founded in 1978 — versus 6,451 attacks by the Islamic State “since it became formally known by its name in 2013.” In 2018, the consortium counted 122 attacks and 136 deaths from the PKK versus 735 attacks and 2,221 deaths from ISIS.
The Times also noted: “The State Department’s latest annual terrorism report contains over 500 references (to) ISIS, including a lengthy introduction assessing its influence in the region, compared with under 30 mentions of the PKK.”

Hurricane Harvey

Relief money for Texas

Touting the “billions and billions of dollars” in relief money he authorized for Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 — and teasing Texas lawmakers over their requests for him to spend more — Trump said, “You made a fortune on the hurricane.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Texas did not make money from Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey created costs of $125 billion, the federal government estimates. As of Wednesday, the government says Texas has been allocated $26.6 billion in federal disaster funds since 2017.
The Texas Department of Insurance estimated in April that personal and commercial insurance payouts related to Harvey would total $19.6 billion.

Aside from the personal toll of the disaster, which killed dozens of people, thousands of Texas residents have suffered severe financial losses from which they have not recovered.

Coast Guard rescues

Trump said of Hurricane Harvey: “Our Coast Guard saved 16,000 lives.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: The Coast Guard says the correct number is 11,022 people rescued.


The Bidens

Trump conflated his accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter — railing against Hunter Biden’s business dealings, then saying that Joe Biden “takes a billion-five” from China and “he goes on and he allows China to rip us off.” He added, “So the Bidens got rich while America got robbed.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: There is no evidence Joe Biden has received large sums of money from China or has otherwise gained wealth as a result of his son’s business dealings abroad.

Trump has previously made the “billion-five” accusation against Hunter Biden. While a conservative author has used this figure, it has not been proven. A lawyer for Hunter Biden, George Mesires, says the investment company in which Hunter Biden has an equity stake was capitalized with a total of about $4.2 million at today’s exchange rates, “not $1.5 billion.” Even this investment was not a direct payment to Hunter Biden; He holds a 10% stake in the firm, Mesires says, and has not made a profit to date.

Obama and AIDS

“We will achieve new breakthroughs in science and medicine, finding new cures for childhood cancer, and ending the AIDS epidemic in America in less than 10 years — we’re doing that. Who would have believed we could do that? We’re doing that. And the previous administration spent no money on that…” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: The Obama administration spent $10.8 billion on domestic HIV/AIDS research between the 2013 fiscal year and 2016 fiscal year alone, according to a review by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and $85.1 billion more on domestic HIV/AIDS care, housing and prevention programs in those four years. It also spent $26 billion on international HIV/AIDS initiatives of various kinds over the same time period.

Democrats and undocumented immigrants

Trump noted that all of the 10 Democratic presidential candidates at a debate in June raised their hand to say they would extend health care coverage to undocumented immigrants, then claimed that the Democrats “want to give more to illegal aliens than they give to American citizens.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: The Democrats want to give these immigrants the same access to care that citizens have, not more.

Dallas crowds

The crowd outside his Dallas rally

“…outside, they have close to 30,000 people. And I wonder if I could ask the fire marshal, fill up this little area, let ’em in.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Trump’s estimate was way off. “We didn’t have 30K outside. Probably had upward of 5K outside,” Dallas Police Department spokesman Sgt. Mitchell Warren told CNN in an email.

The crowd inside the Dallas rally

“And by the way, I have to say this. So outside, they have close to 30,000 people, and I wonder if I could ask the fire marshal: fill up this little area, let ’em in. You know, they have a certain max. We broke the record tonight.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Trump did not break the attendance record at the American Airlines Center. Jason Evans, a spokesman for the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, told CNN that the fire department and the arena calculated an attendance of 18,500. The Dallas Mavericks, who play in the arena, had an average announced attendance of 20,013 per game last season, among the highest in the NBA, according to ESPN data.

Economy, trade and international affairs

Iran’s economy

“I think we’re in a very good position in the Middle East. I think we’re very, very strong in the Middle East. Iran is going to hell; their economy is in deep trouble. Their GDP went down 20%, which nobody ever even heard of before. Probably 25%.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. While Iran’s economy is shrinking, the Statistical Center of Iran reported that the country’s GDP fell by 4.9% in the year 2018-2019.

Experts say there is no apparent basis for Trump’s “20%” and “25%” figures even though Iran’s official economic data is less reliable than official data in the US.

“It’s still not iron-clad stuff, but if the situation was anywhere near 25% decline then the official stats would at least be in the teens. This is also why folks cross-check these numbers with independent and global institutional data (such as IMF’s). My suspicion is that it’s closer to 13-15% decrease, which still puts it a good 10% points below Trump’s claim,” Hussein Banai, an assistant professor who studies Iran at Indiana University’s School of International Studies, said in an email.

The International Monetary Fund expects a 9.5% contraction in Iran’s economy this year — down from an earlier estimate of a 6% contraction, but still not 20% or 25%. The World Bank forecasts an 8.7% contraction in the 2019-2020 period.

Stock market participation

“If you look at people’s stocks, their 401(k)s, if you look at anything you want to look at, they’re far better off now than they probably ever have been in this country. Record stock markets. And don’t forget, stock market is not just rich people. It’s all people. Because all people own in the stock markets.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: Trump was right that it’s not only rich people who own stocks, but it’s not true that “all” people own stocks. Roughly half of Americans owned stocks as of 2017, according to academic studies and polls.
Wealthy people own a disproportionate share of stocks. A 2017 paper by New York University economist Edward Wolff found that the top 10% of households owned 84% of stocks in 2016.

The Soviet Union’s ‘downsizing’

“You know, Russia was involved in Afghanistan. It used to be called the Soviet Union — now it’s called Russia for a reason. Because they lost so much money in Afghanistan that they had to downsize. A very big downsizing.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: This was an exaggeration. Experts say the Soviet Union’s failed war in Afghanistan was far from the only reason for its collapse, though it did contribute to it. (We’ll ignore Trump’s use of the term “downsizing” to describe the dissolution of the Soviet Union.)

You can read a longer fact check here.

Louis Vuitton

“And they’re opening up a plant in Texas. The first time, I believe — one of the great companies of the world — first time ever in the United States.” — October 17 exchange with reporters upon Air Force One arrival in Texas

Facts First: The Louis Vuitton workshop Trump visited in Texas is the company’s third workshop in the United States. It also has two in California.

US tariff history

Trump boasted about a World Trade Organization decision to allow the US to impose $7.5 billion in tariffs on European countries in response to their subsidies to airplane manufacturer Airbus.

“We’re winning, in the case of the European Union, $7.5 billion. And Italy has a percentage of that to pay. And, in the — in other cases, we’ve won. And we have a lot of money coming into the United States for the first time ever. Tremendous amounts of money in many different forms, including tariffs.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: This is nonsensical. This is clearly not the first time the US has had tariff revenue; the US generated $32 billion from tariffs in 2016, the last full year before Trump’s presidency, according to the Congressional Research Service, and $41.6 billion in the 2018 fiscal year, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Trump was wrong even if he was talking specifically about tariffs authorized by the WTO. “Airbus is not the only case where ‘retaliation’ was authorized and US tariffs went into effect,” said Dan Ikenson, director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. Ikenson pointed to the case of hormone-treated beef, in which the WTO approved retaliatory tariffs the US imposed in 1999.

Trade deficits

“And we lose, for many years, $500 billion a year with China and many other countries, we lose billions. We lose with everybody — but that’s all changing now.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: “We lose with everybody” is an exaggeration, even going by Trump’s disputed characterization of trade deficits as “losses.” While the US did have an overall trade deficit with the world in 2018, it had surpluses with multiple countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Singapore, according to US government data.

We explain in a separate item that the US has never had a $500 billion trade deficit with China.

The media and the G7

“So interesting that, when I announced Trump National Doral in Miami would be used for the hosting of the G-7, and then rescinded due to Do Nothing Democrat/Fake News Anger, very few in Media mentioned that NO PROFITS would be taken, or would be given FREE, if legally permissible!” — October 20 tweet
“I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders…I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!” — October 19 tweet
Facts First: Numerous news outlets reported the White House’s claim that Trump would not make a profit on a G7 summit held at his resort. (CNN’s article, for example, quoted acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as saying, “Trump will not be profiting in ‘any way, shape or form'”; the New York Times article said, “Mr. Mulvaney said the hotel would put on the summit ‘at cost.’ ‘I think the president has pretty much made it very clear since he got here that he doesn’t profit from being here,’ he said. ‘He has no interest in profit from being here.'”)
News outlets did not report that anything would be “given FREE” because Mulvaney and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham used the phrase “at cost,” not “free” or “zero cost.”

The 2016 election

Facebook and the election

“And I’m no fan of those companies. They were against me. Somebody said I lost maybe two million votes, maybe more, because of Facebook.” — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: Trump appeared to be referring to a flawed study that dubiously alleged that Google bias was sufficiently bad to have shifted at least 2.6 million votes away from Trump in the 2016 presidential election. While the author, Robert Epstein, did criticize Facebook in congressional testimony in July, he did not find that Facebook cost Trump 2 million votes. You can read a longer fact check about this study here.

Trump was vague, saying that “somebody” said he had lost 2 million votes or more, so it is possible he was referring to something else. Regardless, there is no evidence for the claim that he lost millions of votes because of some nefarious acts by social media companies.

The number of Republican candidates

“I never debated, my whole life has been a debate, but I never debated like with a podium and this and that. So, I said who are they? And we had 17 people plus me. We had 18, it was actually not 17, it was 18, remember? Gilmore, nobody remembers him but we had 18 people.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: There were 17 candidates in the early Republican primary debates in 2015, including Jim Gilmore, the former Virginia governor.

We usually ignore it when Trump says there were 18, since he was off by only one, but we’re flagging it here because Trump specifically rejected the accurate number, 17.


Trump recited his usual complaints about how he was treated by US intelligence officials involved in investigating his campaign’s relationship with Russia. He added: “There was a lot of corruption. Maybe it goes right up to President Obama. I happen to think it does.” — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: There is simply no evidence of Obama corruption.

Women in space

“Joining us during their spacewalk outside the International Space Station — and this is the first time for a woman outside of the Space Station — are Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Flight Engineer Jessica Meir.” — October 18 teleconference with participants of first all-female spacewalk on International Space Station

Facts First: Trump was immediately fact checked by Meir, who noted that this is not “the first time for a woman outside of the Space Station.”

Meir said: “Thank you. First — first of all, we don’t want to take too much credit, because there have been many other female spacewalkers before us. This is just the first time that there have been two women outside at the same time.”

The Internal Revenue Service

“I will never allow the IRS to be used as a political weapon — except in the case of myself, where they use it against me.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: There is no basis for Trump’s claim that he is allowing the IRS to be used against himself. The IRS is run by a Trump appointee, Charles Rettig, and there is no evidence it is being used against Trump; Democrats are seeking access to his tax returns, but that is not the same thing.

The St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers

“But they (the Blues) gathered at a bar in Philadelphia where they heard the 1982 hit, ‘Gloria.’ That’s where you were — that’s why we were playing that song, for those of you that don’t know what’s happened here. ‘Gloria.’ The next day, you shut out the Flyers, who were hot, and ‘Gloria’ became your new ‘win song.'” — October 15 speech at ceremony for Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues
Facts First: We realize this sounds silly, but since we count each and every Trump false claim no matter how little, we must note that he was the opposite of correct when he said the Flyers were “hot” at the time the Blues faced them on January 7. The Flyers were on a six-game losing streak.

Here are the claims Trump made last week that we have previously fact checked in one of these weekly roundups:

The Ukraine scandal

The accuracy of the whistleblower

Trump claimed six times last week, in tweets and public remarks, that the whistleblower’s account of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was highly inaccurate — calling the whistleblower’s claims “sooo wrong, not even close,” “so far from the facts,” and “totally different from the actual transcribed call.”

Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of the call has largely been proven accurate. In fact, the rough transcript released by Trump himself showed that the whistleblower’s three primary allegations about the call were correct or very close to correct.

You can read a full fact check here.

The timeline of Schiff’s comments

“So he (Adam Schiff) made up a totally false conversation with the Ukrainian President, and we caught him cold. Everybody knew it anyway. See? We did one thing — you always have to do the unexpected. They never thought I’d release the conversation with the Ukrainian President.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas
Facts First: Schiff delivered his rendition of Trump’s call the day after Trump released the transcript, not before. Trump initially recounted the timeline correctly, then adopted this incorrect timeline.

The legality of Schiff’s comments

“Hope all House Republicans, and honest House Democrats, will vote to CENSURE Rep. Adam Schiff tomorrow for his brazen and unlawful act of fabricating (making up) a totally phony conversation with the Ukraine President and U.S. President, me. Most have never seen such a thing!” — October 16 tweet
Facts First: While it’s fair for Trump to be miffed about Schiff’s comments — Schiff’s mix of near-quotes from Trump, his own analysis, and supposed “parody” was at the very least confusing — Schiff’s words were not illegal.
Again, the Constitution includes a specific provision that allows members of Congress to speak freely during official meetings.

The rough transcript

Trump twice claimed that he had released an “exact” transcript of his call with Zelensky.

Facts First: The document released by the White House explicitly says, on the first page, that it is not an exact transcript of the call.

“A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place. A number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation,” the document says.


Democrats and the wall

“Democrats always liked Walls, until I built them. Do you see what’s happening here?” — October 17 tweet

“And you know five years ago, almost every one of them (Democrats) wanted a wall.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Democrats did support Republican demands for fencing in the comprehensive immigration reform bill six years ago, but that was fencing — and Democrats agreed to endorse it only in exchange for Republican support for their own preferred policies, like a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The wall

“…the WALL is being built!” — October 14 tweet

“We’re building a great wall along the southern border and it’s going up rapidly.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: As of September 30, no additional miles of border wall had been built during Trump’s presidency in places where barriers had not existed before, according to a fact sheet from Customs and Border Protection. Over Trump’s tenure in office, 69 miles of barriers had been constructed in places where “dilapidated and outdated” barriers had existed before; that’s a pace of about half a mile of replacement barrier per week.

Trump said three times that the Democrats support “open borders.”

Democrats and borders

Facts First: Even 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who advocate the decriminalization of the act of illegally entering the country, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, do not support completely unrestricted migration, as Trump suggests.

Mexican troops

“Mexico, today, had 27,000 soldiers on our border and we’ve stopped this horrible migration of people…” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Mexico has deployed a substantial number of troops, but Trump exaggerated how many are being stationed near the US border in particular. Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters in September that 10,000 of the approximately 25,000 Mexican troops deployed were on Mexico’s own southern border: “They’ve created a new national guard within their country: 10,000 troops to the southern border; 15,000 troops to the northern border with the United States,” he said.

Trade and China

The World Trade Organization

“I think the WTO award has been testament to a lot of good work by the Trump administration. We never won with the WTO, or essentially never won. Very seldom did we win. And now we’re winning a lot. We’re winning a lot because they know if we’re not treated fairly, we’re leaving.” And: “But the WTO — that’s the World Trade Organization — has been very unfair to the United States. They know I feel that way, and I think since they know I feel that way, all of a sudden, we’re starting to win very big awards.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

“We didn’t win any cases at the WTO…And we won a lot of cases lately, we didn’t win anything for years, practically.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: The US has long won cases at the World Trade Organization, and there is no evidence that WTO adjudicators have suddenly changed their behavior toward the US. While Trump’s administration took over the 15-year-old Airbus case in 2017, the latest US victory in that case in particular was only the most recent in a series of wins that dates back to the early Obama administration.
Contrary to Trump’s repeated assertion, the US has long been successful in WTO disputes — his own Council of Economic Advisers said in a report in February 2018 that the US had won 86% of the cases it has brought since 1995. The global average was 84% and China’s figure 67%, according to the council.

As is standard for the WTO, the US has tended to lose cases where it is defending the case rather than bringing it — but even in those cases, Trump’s advisers noted that the US did better (a 25% victory rate) than the world average (17%) or China’s rate (just 5%).

A Bloomberg Law review in March found that the US success rate in cases it brings to the WTO had increased very slightly since Trump took office, from 84.8% in 2016 to 85.4%.

China’s economic history

“And China became rich because of the WTO. That’s when China really ascended. That’s when China went up. That’s when they made their great rise. They were flatlining, and then, all of a sudden, around the year 2000, 2001, when they got involved with the WTO, it became a whole different story.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: China’s economy was not “flatlining” before it became a member of the World Trade Organization in late 2001. China had experienced significant growth for years prior.

According to World Bank figures, China grew by 7.7% in 1999, 8.5% in 2000 and 8.3% in 2001. It then grew by 9.1% in 2002, 10.0% in 2003 and 10.1% in 2004. Its post-WTO growth peaked at 14.2% in 2007 — almost identical to its growth in 1992.

Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote in 2008: “China has been the fastest growing economy in the world over almost three decades, expanding at 10 per cent per year in real terms.” In an email to CNN in July, when Trump made another version of this comment, Lardy said, “Uninformed would be the best characterization of the President’s comment.”

China’s economic performance

“They’ve (China) had the worst year they’ve had in 27 years and we’re having the best year we’ve ever had, so that’s good, that’s good.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

“And they’re having the worst year they’ve had in 57 years.” — October 18 exchange with reporters at teleconference with participants of first all-female spacewalk on International Space Station

Facts First: The US is not having its best economic year ever by the metric by which China is having its worst year in 27 years.

China’s second-quarter GDP growth of 6.2% and third-quarter GDP growth of 6% were its worst since 1992, 27 years ago. US second-quarter growth was 2%, lower than in the same quarter of 2018 and 2017.

Who is paying the tariffs

“We’ve taken in tens of billions of dollars of tariffs and China’s eating the cost, because they devalued their currency…” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: A bevy of economic studies has found that Americans are bearing the overwhelming majority of the tariff costs, and Americans make the actual tariff payments.

China’s agricultural spending

“So I hear the most the farmers ever did (in business with China) was $16 billion, so I said, ‘Ask for 70.’ They said, ‘No, you don’t mean 70. Sixteen.’ ‘Ask for 70.'” — October 15 speech at ceremony for Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues

“The most they ever did was $20 billion of product from our farmers, our great farmers, our patriot farmers.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: China spent $25.9 billion on American agricultural products in 2012, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture.

The trade deficit with China

Trump said twice that the US has a $500 billion trade deficit with China.

Facts First: Through 2018, there has never been a $500 billion trade deficit with China. The 2018 deficit was $381 billion last year when counting goods and services, $420 billion when counting goods alone.

The trade deficit with the European Union

“They do very well with us on trade. They had a trade surplus with the United States, over the last five or six years, of about $150 billion a year.” He added that the US deficit “could even be” $178 billion. — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: The trade deficit with the European Union was $114.6 billion in 2018, $101.2 billion in 2017 and $92.5 billion in 2016.

The deficit was $169.6 billion in 2018 if you only count trade in goods and ignore trade in services. But Trump, as usual, failed to specify that he was using this more limited measure.

Military affairs

Military spending

“Our military has been completely rebuilt…We spent two and a half trillion dollars rebuilding it over the last three years.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

“We’ve invested more than $2.5 trillion restoring our armed forces…” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Defense spending for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 was $2.05 trillion, and that includes more than three-and-a-half months of Obama’s tenure, since the 2017 fiscal year began in October 2016.

Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he thinks Trump must have been including military funding for the 2020 fiscal year to get to the “$2.5 trillion” figure — but the 2020 fiscal year has just started, and Harrison noted that the defense appropriation has not yet been approved by Congress.

The nuclear arsenal

“Our nuclear has been totally updated and in some cases new.” — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: Experts say that Trump has not yet implemented significant changes to the US nuclear arsenal. “I am not aware that Trump can claim to have done anything for the state of the nuclear arsenal — but nothing urgent needed to be done anyway,” said Scott Kemp, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy, who served as a State Department adviser on arms control early in the Obama administration.

You can read a longer fact check here.

NATO contributions

“And I want to just thank Secretary General Stoltenberg because he is going around saying that President Trump was able to raise over $100 billion last year, which is true.” — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

Facts First: This is at least a slight exaggeration — and one Stoltenberg gently tried to correct when he met with Trump in April. Though Stoltenberg has indeed given Trump credit for pressuring NATO countries into boosting spending, he has said, to Trump and in other forums, that the extra $100 billion the countries will spend on their own militaries will come by the end of 2020, not that it happened “last year.”

Veterans Choice

“We passed for the veterans VA Choice and VA Accountability on behalf of those great people. They’ve been trying to pass it from us 50 years, they couldn’t get it done. But those guys right there and me, we got it done.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Obama signed the Choice program into law in 2014. Trump signed a law in 2018, the VA MISSION Act, to expand and change the program.

A timeline for Syria

“But we were supposed to be there for 30 days; we stayed for 10 years.” — October 16 exchange with reporters at meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

“We were supposed to be in Syria for one month. That was 10 years ago.” — October 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

“And, by the way, we have the strongest military in the world. But we’ve been there for 10 years.” — October 17 exchange with reporters upon Air Force One arrival in Texas
Facts First: There was never any specific timeline for the US military’s involvement in Syria, much less a timeline of a mere 30 days. The US began bombing Syria in 2014 and deployed ground troops in 2015 — five years ago and four years ago, not 10 years ago.

“There was never a 30-day timetable on the US presence in Syria,” said Syria expert Steven Heydemann, a professor of government and director of the Middle East Studies program at Smith College. “The previous administration, and officials serving in this administration, have never offered a fixed timetable for the US mission. Official statements have emphasized that the presence of US forces would be short, limited in scope, and small. But beyond general comments along those lines, there has been no statement indicating it would end after 30 days.”

News outlets including The New York Times reported in mid-2012 that a small number of CIA officers were on the ground in Turkey to help policymakers decide how to arm the opposition to Syria’s government, so you can make a reasonable argument that US involvement goes back more than seven years. Still, “10 years ago” remains an exaggeration.

Accomplishments, promises and popualrity

Approval with Republicans

“95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party. Thank you!” — October 16 tweet
“95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party!” — October 17 tweet

Facts First: Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is very high, regularly in the 80s and sometimes creeping into the 90s, but it has not been 95% in any recent major poll we could find.

Trump was at 88% with Republicans in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted from October 11-13, 84% in an Ipsos/Reuters poll conducted October 14-15, and 87% in Gallup data gathered from October 1 to 13.

Pre-existing conditions

“We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: We usually don’t fact-check promises, but this one has already proved untrue. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Trump is currently supporting a Republican lawsuit that is seeking to declare all of Obamacare void. He has not issued a plan to reinstate the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the suit succeeds.

The unemployment rate

“Last month, unemployment reached its lowest level in 51 years.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: The September rate, 3.5%, was the lowest since December 1969, just under 50 years ago.

Ivanka Trump and jobs

“Even though they’re related to me, just slightly, I will tell you, what a job. Ivanka is responsible for 14 million jobs this year, over the last couple of years, with companies going out and training people. And it’s been an incredible success. She started off two and a half years ago; she wanted 500,000 jobs. That’s a lot. But it was typical Ivanka. It ended up — and now, the number, I think it just crossed 14 million jobs going to Walmart, going to ExxonMobil, going to the great companies. And they train people. And the numbers are incredible, and that’s one of the reasons that our numbers are so good.” — October 17 speech at opening of Louis Vuitton workshop in Alvarado, Texas
Facts First: Given that fewer than 6.5 million jobs had been created during the entire Trump presidency through September, Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and White House adviser, is obviously not “responsible for 14 million jobs this year.” The President was referring to the Pledge to America’s Workers, an initiative for which companies had promised to create 14.3 million “new opportunities” for workers as of Tuesday — but many of these “opportunities” are internal training opportunities, not new jobs.
The web page for the pledge program describes them as “education and training opportunities.” Also, as CNN has previously reported, many of the companies had already planned these opportunities before Ivanka Trump launched the initiative.

Energy production

“We’ve ended the war on American energy. America is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world…” — October 17 speech at opening of Louis Vuitton workshop in Alvarado, Texas

Trump claimed to have ended “the war on a thing called American energy,” then boasted that the US is “now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: The US has not just “now” become the world’s top energy producer, and it did not achieve this status because of Trump’s policies: it took the top spot in 2012, under the very president he has accused of perpetuating the “war.” The US became the top producer of crude oil in particular during Trump’s tenure.

The judiciary

Obama and judicial vacancies

“So I got in and say, ‘How many federal judges do I have?’ ‘Sir, you have 142 two federal judges.’ ‘No, you don’t understand the question. That’s impossible. That would mean that President Obama didn’t appoint 142 judges.’…And then they say, ‘Obama, wasn’t he such a wonderful president?’ How are you a wonderful president — how are you a wonderful president when the most important thing you can do you handed over to the Republicans, 142?” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Trump exaggerated. There were 104 vacancies on January 1, 2017, just before Trump was inaugurated, according to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments.

The history of judicial vacancies

“You know, when I got into office, they say the most important thing a president can do, I actually think it’s defense, but they say is the appointment of federal judges. So when I got in — always when you get in, there are none. How many do you have? ‘I have none, none.'” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: It’s not true that presidents are usually left no judicial vacancies at all. According to Wheeler, there were 53 vacancies on January 1, 2009, just before Obama took office; 80 vacancies on January 1, 2001, just before George W. Bush took office; 107 vacancies on January 1, 1993, just before Bill Clinton took office.

So Trump had the most judges to appoint since Clinton, but, clearly, other presidents also had appointing to do.

Wind energy

Trump told his usual semi-comedic story about how, if “windmills” are used for energy as he said Democrats want, people’s televisions will go out if the wind is not presently blowing: “Windmills, you know? ‘Darling, I want to watch Trump speak tonight. We can’t, darling, the wind isn’t blowing.'” — October 17 campaign rally in Dallas

Facts First: Democrats support the use of wind turbines. Using wind power as part of a mix of power sources does not cause power outages even when the wind isn’t blowing, as the federal Department of Energy explains on its website. “Studies have shown that the grid can accommodate large penetrations of variable renewable power without sacrificing reliability, and without the need for ‘backup’ generation,” the Department of Energy says.

CNN’s Brian Stelter, Ashley Killough, Holmes Lybrand and Marshall Cohen contributed to this article.

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