AP FACT CHECK: Trump botches murder rate

Published: Wednesday, February 08, 2017 @ 3:27 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 08, 2017 @ 3:26 AM

            President Donald Trump looks at a figurine given to him by a group of county sheriffs, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump's dark view of violent crime in America rests largely on a bogus claim: that the murder rate is higher than it's been in nearly half a century. Actually, the murder rate is down sharply in that time, despite a recent spike.

On Tuesday, he told a meeting of sheriffs: "The murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years. I used to use that — I'd say that in a speech and everybody was surprised because the press doesn't tell it like it is." He circled back to add: "The murder rate is the highest it's been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years."

THE FACTS: The murder rate in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available, is actually among the lowest in half a century. It stood at 4.9 murders per 100,000 people, a far cry from the rates in the 1970s, 1980s and most of the 1990s, when they were typically over 6 per 100,000, peaking at over 10 in 1980.

It's true that 2015 saw one of the largest increases in decades, up 10 percent from 4.4 murders per 100,000 people in 2014, but even with that rise homicides are not on the order of what the country experienced in previous decades.

Trump has misrepresented crime statistics on several occasions. He stated last month that Philadelphia's murder rate has been "terribly increasing" even though it dropped slightly last year. The city's murder rate rose in the previous two years but remained substantially lower than in past decades.

He also incorrectly claimed that two people "were shot and killed" in Chicago during then-President Barack Obama's farewell speech on Jan. 10. Although Chicago has experienced a surge in murders compared with previous decades, no one was fatally shot in Chicago that day, police records show, much less during Obama's speech.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ A look at the veracity of claims by public figures

Donald Trump on first 100 days in office: 'I thought it would be easier'

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 10:16 AM

As President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office, the commander-in-chief said he’s found the job of leading the United States to be more difficult than he expected.

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“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview published Friday. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

Saturday will mark 100 days since Trump was sworn into office.

Trump made his name as a wealthy business mogul and television personality before Jan. 20, when he became the 45th president of the United States. He had not held public office before January.

It’s not the first time Trump has expressed surprise over the scope of his responsibilities as president.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Trump said he “never realized how big” the job was.

“The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world,” he told the wire service. “I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that’s involved in some of the decisions.”

The lack of privacy afforded to the president also surprised Trump, who told Reuters that even in his “old life” he had little time out of the public eye.

"You're really into your own little cocoon, because you have such massive protection that you really can't go anywhere," he told the news agency. "I like to drive. … I can't drive anymore."

Two-thirds of Americans think that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the country

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 2:58 PM

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, greets supporters after speaking at a “Come Together and Fight Back” rally in Miami on Wednesday night, April 19, 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

You might not be surprised if I were to tell you that a majority of Americans think that President Donald Trump is out of touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today. Sure, he won the election, but a plurality of voters opposed him, and a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that he hasn't expanded his base of support significantly since then. You certainly wouldn't be surprised to learn that there's a broad partisan split on the question, as there is on nearly everything in politics these days.

>> Democrats select Tom Perez as DNC chair

Only 1 in 10 of those who voted for Trump in November think he's out of touch - but 90 percent of Hillary Clinton voters do. Partisan views are slightly more moderate, with 20 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats holding that position.

When it comes to the Republican Party, the numbers are a bit worse. Sixty-two percent of Americans, and 30 percent of Republicans themselves, think that the GOP is out of touch with the concerns of most people in the United States.

But none of this means that Democrats are seen as echoing the concerns of the common man. In fact, the Democratic Party is viewed as more out of touch than either Trump or the party's political opponents. Two-thirds of Americans think the Democrats are out of touch - including nearly half of Democrats themselves.

>> In revealing essay, Donna Brazile admits sending town hall topic questions to Clinton campaign

It's worth highlighting that last point. While the political opposition generally views Trump or either party as about equally out of touch - with about 80 to 90 percent saying so - the Democratic Party is viewed as far more out of touch by Democrats than Trump or the GOP are by Republicans.

Last week, we noted that Trump's party is seen as more divided than the opposition, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Sixty-eight percent of Americans think the Republican Party is more divided than united, including 57 percent of Republicans. Most Democrats, by contrast, say their party is united.

How does that comport with the findings from the Post-ABC poll? It's tricky to determine, certainly, but one way may be that a large chunk of Democrats feel that their party is united in a vision ... that's at odds with the concerns of the American public. That would certainly align with the main tension in the party, between the vision of supporters of Bernie Sanders and that of Clinton backers - which was made manifest during last year's Democratic primary.

>> Man 'fed up' with Dems says he dumped manure at Ohio Democratic HQ

Some portion of this, too, is probably a function of Clinton's loss in November (as is the shift in how people say they would have changed their vote). But it's clear that the Democratic Party is cognizant, to some extent, of the discontent at the grass roots. When Tom Perez, the newly elected leader of the party, headed out on a listening tour this month, he brought along a special guest: Sanders.


Lawmakers: Flynn likely broke the law; what is the emoluments clause?

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 @ 2:35 PM

(2016 Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn likely broke the law when he failed to disclose income he earned from Russia and Turkey, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday.

Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, along with ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told reporters Tuesday Flynn failed to ask for permission to speak at a 2015 event in Russia or register to lobby on behalf of the government of Turkey. Flynn then failed to report the money he earned for the speaking engagement and lobbying efforts on his personal financial disclosure form when he applied to have his security clearance reinstated to work as national security adviser.

Flynn's consulting firm accepted $530,000 for work with a firm that is associated with Turkey's government. He received $45,000 for his speaking engagement in Russia.

The Associated Press reported Flynn’s lawyer filed paperwork with the Justice Department in February disclosing that he had done lobbying work that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey” between August and November 2016. 

Flynn’s contract ended on Nov. 15, three days before he was appointed Trump’s national security adviser.

Chaffetz and Cummings said they had seen classified memos concerning Flynn’s activities. They also said they saw Flynn’s disclosure form.

“Personally I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz told reporters.

“He was supposed to get permission, he was supposed to report it, and he didn’t,” Cummings said. 

Flynn was fired as national security adviser in February after he made misleading comments to Vice President Mike Pence about discussions he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

With Flynn's failure to obtain permission from military authorities for the payments and failure to disclose them, the retired general could have violated a constitutional ban on foreign payments to retired military officers.

“The law requires him to seek permission ... from the secretary of state and the Department of Defense,” Chaffetz said. “The response we’re getting is there is no information, and that, we believe, is the potential violation.”

The New York Times story says U.S. Army investigators have found no record that Flynn has "filed the required paperwork for the trip" to Russia in 2015, nor reported the income he received, as is required by the emoluments cause in the U.S. Constitution.

What is the emoluments clause and what does it say? Here’s a quick look.

What is an emolument?

An emolument – in its dictionary definition – is payment for work done or “gain from employment or position.”

So if it’s pay for a service, what’s wrong with that?

Nothing is wrong with it, as long as the “gain” or payment does not come from unauthorized work for a foreign government.

The title of nobility clause, Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution, addresses foreign emoluments, or money paid by a foreign government. The section reads: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” 

What constitutes a violation of the clause?

For a violation of the emoluments clause to have occurred the person must qualify as a U.S. officer and must have accepted an emolument from a foreign government. Flynn would fall under the “U.S. officer” portion of the clause since he is a retired U.S. military officer that had the potential to be called back into active duty.

What happens if you are caught doing that? 

The foreign emoluments clause does not specify a penalty for its violation. Cummings has suggested in a letter to President Donald Trump that if Flynn violated the clause, then he owes the U.S. the amount of money he received from Russia and Turkey.

Flynn claims he received his fee from Russia Today, a state-owned television station, not the Russian government, thus he did not take pay from a foreign government. RT paid Leading Authorities, a private firm that arranges for speakers for events, according to the Yale Journal on Regulation.

House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz will not run for reelection

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 @ 1:33 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16:  U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) talks before the start of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals testified before the committee about the restructuring of that court.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection next year, although he didn’t rule out a possible future run for office.

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“After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,” Chaffetz said in a Facebook post. “After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018.”

Chaffetz has represented Utah’s 3rd congressional district since 2008 and has chaired the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform since 2015.

“For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives,” he said. “I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be reelected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.”

Thank you! Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative in the United States House of Representatives....

Posted by Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chaffetz’s district is among the most Republican in the country, and the lawmaker has won reelection with at least 70 percent of the vote four times in a row, Politico reported.

In the four presidential elections between 2000 and 2012, Republican candidates won the district by more than 65 percent of the vote. President Donald Trump won the district in 2016 with 47 percent of the vote.