President Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that he waited two days to condemn white supremacist groups after this weekend’s deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, because it’s “very important” to him that he “get the facts” before making a statement.
Trump faced withering criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike over his vague initial comment denouncing “many sides” for the violence sparked by a white supremacist rally on Saturday that left one counterprotester dead.
“You don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts,” Trump told reporters at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. “Here is the thing: When I make a statement, I like to be correct.”
“Before I make a statement, I need the facts,” he added. “I don’t want to rush into a statement.”
But his growing record of misstatements suggests otherwise.
Trump has made hundreds of false claims since taking office, as evidenced by an extensive New York Times report published in June.
In January, he claimed people protesting him are “paid,” though there’s no evidence to support this. In February, he said the Affordable Care Act covered “very few people.” In fact, 20 million more people received health insurance after Obamacare passed. In March, Trump falsely claimed he “cut approximately $600 million off” the price of F-35 fighter” planes, yet manufacturer Lockheed Martin had already planned the cost reductions.
Throughout his presidential campaign he insisted he had opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, when he initially backed it. After winning the White House, he asserted that illegally cast ballots caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, though no evidence supports that claim.
And on Tuesday, less than five minutes before declaring his commitment to the “facts,” Trump rattled off an incorrect detail about New York City’s iconic Empire State Building while attempting to promote his infrastructure improvement plans.
“It took 11 months to build the Empire State Building,” he said. “But today it can take as long as a decade.”
The structure actually took over 13 months to construct, according to the Empire State Realty Trust.
The list goes on and on (and on).
But aside from making countless false statements, Trump has a proven record of responding to events (and especially criticism) almost immediately ― and before all the facts are in.
Trump is almost always quick to condemn Muslim extremists after terrorism attacks, even if officials haven’t released the nature of the attack and the suspect’s identity.
Hours after a gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June of 2016, Trump congratulated himself for “being right” on labeling the attack “radical Islamic terrorism” before officials had released all of the details.
In September, Trump was quick to describe an explosion in New York as a “bomb,” before officials publicly said so.
In November of 2015, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, Trump at a campaign rally said he could predict terrorism “because I can feel it.”
The outspoken president has had no problem immediately condemning “radical Islamic terrorism,” or criticizing celebrities, and the Pope, and a Gold Star family. But when it comes to neo-Nazis marching in the streets of Charlottesville screaming “Jews will not replace us” and a participant in the white nationalist rally allegedly ramming his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, he’d rather wait to “get all the facts.”