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 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

Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

Published: Thursday, November 30, 2017 @ 5:32 PM

What You Need To Know About Al Franken

An Army veteran and a former elected official in New England accused Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct Thursday, bringing the embattled lawmaker’s total number of accusers to six.

>> Read more trending news

Stephanie Kemplin, 41, told CNN she was a 27-year-old military police officer when she met Franken in Kuwait during a USO tour in December 2003. She told the news station that as a longtime fan of “Saturday Night Live,” she got in line to meet him.

Franken was elected to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate and previously worked as a comic and host for Air America Radio. He was a writer and sometime-actor for "Saturday Night Live" from 1977 to 1980 and from 1988 to 1995.

>> Related: 'Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations

Kemplin told CNN that Franken put his arm around her for a photo when his hand slid over her breast.

"When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast," she told the news network. "I've never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast.”

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

She said his hand remained over her chest for five to 10 seconds before she shifted and the photo was taken.

"I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed," she said. "And I remember thinking -- is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand."

A spokesperson for Franken told CNN that the senator “takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation."

Another woman told Jezebel that Franken attempted to give her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” while they were onstage for an event in 2006. The woman declined to be identified because, she told Jezebel, she wanted her name associated with her accomplishments “and not publicly linked to a man’s bad behavior.”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., arrives to speak to the media on Capitol Hill, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(Alex Brandon/AP)

The woman was chair of her town’s Selectboard when Franken invited her to appear as a guest on a live taping of his show on Air America Radio, Jezebel reported.

After the interview, as the two were still onstage, the woman said she reached toward Franken to shake his hand.

“He took it and leaned toward me with his mouth open,” she said. “I turned my head away from him and he landed a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek.”

She called the incident demeaning.

“I felt put in my place,” she said. “It was onstage in front of a full theater. … It was in plain sight and yet nobody saw it.”

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

The allegations came after four other women claimed Franken made inappropriate sexual contact with them. Most of the women shared stories similar to Kemplin’s, telling reporters that Franken groped them as they posed for photos.

Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden was the first to go public with her accusations, writing in a blog for KABC earlier this month that Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her breasts for a photo as she slept while the two were on a USO tour in 2006. She shared an image of herself sleeping as Franken’s hands hovered over her chest as evidence of the incident.

Franken apologized and called for an ethics investigation into the incident.

"I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter," Franken said in a statement. "There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture."

The Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday announced that it was opening a preliminary inquiry into the allegations, The Associated Press reported.

More women accuse Al Franken of groping, unwanted kissing

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 6:53 PM

What You Need To Know About Al Franken

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:25 p.m.: Sen. Al Franken is disputing a Minnesota Public Radio report that he is resigning from office during a planned press conference Thursday afternoon. Franken, in a tweet, asked MPR to correct their story.

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:00 p.m.: Minnesota Public Radio is reporting Sen. Al Franken will resign his Senate seat on Thursday. The news outlet is citing a Democratic official and “key aides” who have talked with Franken.

“The official spoke to Franken and separately to Franken's staff. A staff member told the official that Franken had gone to his Washington home to discuss his plans with family,” MPR reported.

Minnesota Public Radio said it agreed to withhold the official’s name so that Franken can make the announcement himself.

(Previous story)

Two women came forward Wednesday to accuse Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior as calls for his resignation swelled. 

>> Read more trending news

The reports bring the number of allegations made against the Minnesota Democrat to at least eight. Many of the alleged incidents happened before Franken became a senator, although at least two, including one reported Wednesday, were alleged to have happened after he was sworn in.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., returns to his office after talking to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

A former Democratic congressional aide accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006, three years before he was sworn in as a U.S. senator, according to Politico.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

The aide told the news site that she was getting her things together after a taping of Franken’s radio show in 2006 when she turned to find him in her face.

>> Related: President Trump comments on Senator Franken's groping photo

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide told Politico. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”

Franken denied the allegation in a statement to Politico.

>> Related: Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous,” he said. “I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

Freelance journalist Tina DuPuy also came forward Wednesday in an article published by The Atlantic. She said Franken groped her during a Media Matters party in 2009, after Obama’s first inauguration.

DuPuy wrote she spotted Franken at the party and asked to take a photo with him because her foster mother was one of his fans.

>> Related: ‘Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations

“We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh,” she wrote. “I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice.”

She wrote that the unwanted grope was demeaning.

“It shrunk me. It’s like I was no longer a person, only ornamental. It said, ‘You don’t matter -- and I do,’” she wrote. “He wanted to cop a feel and he demonstrated he didn’t need my permission.”

>> Related: ‘SNL' slams former cast member Al Franken on 'Weekend Update'

DuPuy wrote that she thought Franken would resign when allegations first surfaced against him last month. Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her as she slept during a USO tour in 2006.

Franken apologized for the incident, but as the number of women accusing the congressman grew, so did calls for his resignation. A group of female senators, all Democrats, called for Franken's resignation Wednesday, before DuPuy's accusations were published.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

“It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women, and he should resign,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire.

Franken is expected to address the reports at a planned news conference Thursday.

President Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 1:13 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 1:27 PM

WATCH: President Trump Declares Jerusalem Capital of Israel

President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital Wednesday and announced plans to move the U.S. embassy to the city during a speech at the White House.

>> Read more trending news

Rep. John Conyers announces retirement in wake of sexual harassment allegations

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 10:27 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 3:02 PM

What You Need to Know - John Conyers

Update Dec. 5, 3:05 p.m. EST: U.S. Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation Tuesday afternoon after announcing earlier in the day his plan to retire amid concerns for his health and allegations that he sexually harassed several women who worked for him.

>> Read more trending news

The Democratic congressman said Tuesday in a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that his retirement was “effective today.”

Original report: Longtime Rep. John Conyers announced Tuesday that he will retire in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed several women who worked for him.

He endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him during an interview Tuesday morning on WPZR’s “The Mildred Gaddis Show.”

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” Conyers said. “This too shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

The announcement came amid growing calls for Conyers’s resignation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, called for the congressman to step down last week just days after she called him an “icon” of the Democratic Party. Conyers, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964, was the longest-serving member of Congress, with 52 years of service.

"The allegations against Congressman Conyers ... are serious, disappointing and very credible," Pelosi said. "It's very sad. The brave women who have come forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family, and wish them well; however, Congressman Conyers should resign."

>> Related: Rep. John Conyers hospitalized amid sex harassment accusations, calls for resignation

On Monday, a woman who said she worked for Conyers for more than a decade said he slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while she was sitting next to him in the front row of a church.

Elisa Grubbs made the allegation in an affidavit released late Monday by her attorney, Lisa Bloom. Grubbs is the cousin of another accuser, Marion Brown, who reached a confidential settlement with the congressman over sexual harassment allegations, but broke the confidentiality agreement to speak publicly last week.

Brown, who worked for Conyers in a variety of capacities from 2003 until 2014, told NBC’s the “Today” show last week that the lawmaker “violated my body, he's touched me in different ways.”

“It was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional," she said. “It was sexual harassment -- violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and propositioning for sex.”

At least four other former staff members have accused him of inappropriate behavior, the Detroit Free Press reported. He has denied any wrongdoing.

>> Related: Conyers steps aside from House Judiciary Committee post

Michigan state Sen. Ian Conyers, the 29-year-old grandson of John Conyers’s brother, earlier told The New York Times that the 88-year-old Democratic congressman planned to announce that he would not run for re-election. The elder Conyers’s attorney, Arnold Reed, declined to address the report Tuesday.

"I have not spoken to Ian Conyers and no one is aware of the congressman's plans except he and I and his wife," Reed wrote.

Reed said at a news conference last week that John Conyers alone would decide whether he would step down amid growing pressure from his Democratic and Republican colleagues.

"They're not going to determine whether Congressman Conyers resigns," Reed said. "He's not thinking about that. He's thinking about his health -- he's thinking about getting well."

John Conyers was hospitalized last week with what a family spokesman called a stress-related illness after complaining of feeling light-headed.

Reed has said John Conyers' health would be the paramount consideration in whether he decides to step down from his House seat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.