Trump repeats numerous false claims in campaign-style press briefing from White House

President Donald Trump used a Labor Day press briefing at the White House to give a campaign-style address, attacking his political opponents, touting the alleged success the US has had against the coronavirus and repeating many false and misleading claims along the way.

a man wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on the North Portico of the White House, Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, in Washington.

© Patrick Semansky/AP
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on the North Portico of the White House, Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, in Washington.

In all, CNN counted at least 11 outright falsehoods and a few more that were misleading or lacked context.

We’re updating as we go, but here’s a look at so far at the President’s claims and the facts behind them.


Echoing comments he made in August, Trump claimed “Biden’s plan for the China virus is to shut down the entire US economy.”

Facts First: Biden has not announced any such plan for combating the coronavirus pandemic but has said he would be prepared to call for a shut down if scientists recommended doing so. It’s also worth noting that presidents cannot single-handedly “shut down” the country.

You can read more about Biden’s comments on his plan for addressing the pandemic if elected here.


Trump again claimed that he instituted a law that would send people to prison for 10 years if they tore down a monument or statue.

Facts First: The President’s executive order doesn’t create new laws or possible prison sentences, it simply directed the attorney general to enforce already-existing laws.

Trump issued an executive order on June 26 to, among other things, direct the attorney general to “prioritize” investigating and prosecuting certain cases of vandalism — especially of monuments and memorials of US veterans — in accordance with “applicable law.”

One of the laws cited in the order is the “destruction of government property,” which carries a potential “fine of up to $250,000, ten years imprisonment, or both” if the purposeful damage to government property exceeds $100. The law has been around since 1964.

Trump also cited the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, passed in 2003, which carries a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years for those convicted of vandalizing or destroying monuments, plaques, statues or other property “commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States.”

These laws have been on the books for years. Trump has not recently authorized the Department of Justice to pursue these cases but has ordered the attorney general to prioritize them.

Pillows and tank busters

In referencing US aid to Ukraine, Trump compared his record to President Obama’s.

“They used to send pillows and we send tank busters,” Trump said.

Facts First: While the Obama administration was criticized for its refusal to provide lethal assistance to Ukraine, it did provide more than $100 million in security assistance, as well as a significant amount of defense and military equipment.

Read more here.

NATO spending

Trump said twice that NATO member countries were increasing their spending to $400 billion a year.

Facts First: NATO

Read more