AP FACT CHECK: Trump misrepresents Orlando attack and GDP statistics

Published 8:01 am Monday, March 5, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump didn’t always tell it straight this past week on matters involving his attorney general, economic growth, guns and trade.

A look at some rhetoric from Trump and his aides:

TRUMP: “You take the Pulse Nightclub. If you had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it wouldn’t have happened, or certainly not to the extent it did, where he was just in there shooting and shooting and shooting, and they were defenseless.” — bipartisan meeting with lawmakers Wednesday.

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THE FACTS: That’s a misrepresentation of the scene at the club in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman killed 49 people in June 2016. There was an armed police officer working extra-duty at the club, and he exchanged gunfire with Omar Mateen when the attack began. More officers arrived within minutes and also engaged the killer, who ultimately died in a shootout with police several hours later.

TRUMP, addressing governors Monday: “We’ve done many other things, as you know, and I won’t go over them because I want to be hearing from you today. But many other things that, frankly, nobody thought possible. GDP: 3.2, 3, 3… . I think we’re going to have another really big one coming up this current quarter. Maybe a number that nobody would have thought would ever be hit.” — addressing governors Monday.

THE FACTS: He cited three quarters of annualized growth of the gross domestic product and got one of them right. The correct percentages for each quarter last year are, in order, 1.2 percent, 3.1 percent, 3.2 percent and 2.6 percent. That fourth-quarter percentage is tentative and might still be adjusted. The first quarter encompassed Barack Obama’s final weeks as president.

Overall, the U.S. economy grew by 2.3 percent last year, subject to possible adjustments in the fourth quarter. That’s an improvement from Obama’s final year, 1.5 percent in 2016, but below the best year of the Obama presidency, 2.9 percent in 2015.

Trump has set high — even sky high — expectations for GDP growth, saying late last year, “I see no reason why we don’t go to 4 percent, 5 percent, and even 6 percent.”