Cascade of Pinocchios for Trump’s attacks on Ilhan Omar

What a week! The president accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a U.S. citizen originally from Somalia, of supporting al-Qaeda. To back up this incendiary charge, Trump twisted and transmogrified Omar’s comments from a 2013 interview.

Ironically, Omar in the interview was speaking about the need to separate Islamic terrorists from peaceful Muslims in the public consciousness. And she condemned terrorist acts as “evil” and “heinous.”

“When I think of al-Qaeda, I can hold my chest out,” Trump quoted her as saying.

But instead of proudly proclaiming support for al-Qaeda, Omar was recounting how a college professor of hers would arch his shoulders and accentuate the name of the terrorist group for effect.

She said: “I remember when I was in college I took a terrorism class. … We learned the ideology. The thing that was interesting in the class was every time the professor said ‘al-Qaeda,’ he sort of like, his shoulders went up, and you know — ‘al-Qaeda,’ ‘Hezbollah.’”

A couple days later, Trump held a campaign rally in Greenville, N.C. He criticized Omar repeatedly. The crowd broke into an extended chant: “Send her back! Send her back!” Asked about it the next day, Trump claimed he tried to stop the chants. But video of the rally shows he did nothing of the sort. He let the chants die down on their own, after 13 seconds, and then continued to attack Omar.

Four Pinocchios for the al-Qaeda claim, Four Pinocchios for the rally claim.


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Are prescription drug prices going down?

Trump tweeted, “Last year was the first in 51 years where prescription drug prices actually went down.”

Two days later, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was on CNN claiming the opposite: “He promised to lower prescription drug prices and failed.”

Only one of them can be right, right? Wrong.

Neither of them is entirely correct, and both pick and choose what best supports their case. We dug into these claims, reviewed official government data and independent studies, and consulted experts about this question. What we found is that drug prices seem to be declining for generic alternatives, but not for branded prescription drugs.

Trump aides pointed to the CPI for prescription drugs, which in 2018 fell for the first time in 46 years. But that’s only when focusing on December-to-December years, which is somewhat arbitrary. The president’s record shrinks to five-and-a-half years when looking at the most recent 12-month decline, from July 2012 to July 2013.

Although experts caution that it’s a flawed metric, the CPI for prescription drugs has been falling consistently under Trump and that’s nothing to sneeze at. But a range of independent studies we found shows that drug prices have not declined, especially when it comes to branded drugs. So Gillibrand has an amply supported case to make.


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Scroll down for this week’s Pinocchio roundup.

— Salvador Rizzo