fact check

When President Trump takes credit and assigns blame

President Trump, pausing at the West Wing on Friday, has claimed unprecedented achievements in his first 100 days.
President Trump, pausing at the West Wing on Friday, has claimed unprecedented achievements in his first 100 days. Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — One of the most consistent features of President Trump’s public statements is his tendency to take credit and assign blame. It has consistently puts him at odds with historical facts, and has been on display as he approaches his 100th day in office on April 29.

Over the past week, the president claimed unprecedented achievement as he tried to shape perceptions of his 100-day legacy. He then played down that benchmark as time ran short for him to get big things done.

He disparaged the record of his predecessor, specifically on fighting the violent MS-13 gang, and he addressed his abandonment of a central campaign promise on China by denying he had changed his mind.


A look at some of his statements:

Importance of first 100 days

Trump: ‘‘No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot [including the Supreme Court], media will kill!’’ Tweet on Friday, singling out his successful high court nomination.

The facts: The president may consider the 100-day standard ‘‘ridiculous’’ now, but he bought into it completely during his presidential campaign.

In an appearance at Gettysburg, Pa., on Oct. 22, he issued a ‘‘contract’’ with voters in which he promised 18 steps within 100 days to overhaul the government, protect workers, and improve national security, as well as 10 legislative initiatives. His performance on them is mixed .

Record of accomplishment

Trump: ‘‘No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days,’’ Trump said Tuesday at the Kenosha, Wis., headquarters of Snap-on tools.

The facts: Trump’s legislative victories are minor, surpassed by those of a variety of high achievers in the White House.

Taking office in the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt quickly declared a banking holiday to quiet panic, and won passage of emergency legislation to stabilize the banking system. He came forward with a flurry of legislation that set the pillars of the New Deal in place.


No fewer than 14 historic laws were enacted during FDR’s first 100 days.

Trump’s big agenda items, like his promised tax overhaul and infrastructure plan, have yet to reach Congress. His attempt to secure the borders from people from terrorism-prone regions is so far blocked by courts. His first attempt to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law failed in Congress.

Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package into law in his first month, while also achieving laws expanding health care for children and advancing equal pay for women in that time.

President Ronald Reagan’s 100 days were considered the hardest-driving since FDR, even though Reagan was shot March 30, 1981. He presented Congress with the most consequential tax, spending and government-overhaul plan in decades.

Obama policies on gangs

Trump: ‘‘The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across US We are removing them fast!’’ the president said.

The facts: Obama can’t be blamed for allowing MS-13 to form as a nationwide gang because that happened long before he became president.

A fact sheet from the Justice Department states that the gang, which originated in the 1980s in the Central American community in Los Angeles, ‘‘quickly spread to states across the country.’’

The department indirectly credits the Obama administration, with helping to rein in the group, along with state and local law enforcement officials. “Great progress was made diminishing or severely [disrupting] the gang within certain targeted areas of the US by 2009 and 2010,’’ it said.


The United States carried out record deportations during the Obama administration and, on MS-13 specifically, it labeled the street gang a transnational criminal organization and announced a freeze on its US assets.

US relations with China

Trump: ‘‘I didn’t soften my stance [on China]. Nobody’s ever seen such a positive response on our behalf from China, and then the fake media goes ‘Donald Trump has changed his stance on China.’ I haven’t changed my stance,’’ the president said in a Fox interview.

The facts: It’s hard to imagine a clearer switch in positions than the president’s abandonment of his campaign pledge to declare China a currency manipulator, a move that would have set the stage for trade penalties. China had once devalued its currency to make its exports artificially cheaper, crowding out other countries’ products, but in recent years has let market forces do more to shape currency exchange rates.

During the presidential campaign, there already were signs that China was taking steps to keep the value of the yuan from sinking further against the dollar.

Europe’s payments to NATO

Trump: Speaking about fellow NATO members, the president said in Wisconsin that he wants to ‘‘make sure these countries start paying their bills a little bit more. You know, they’re way, way behind.’’

The facts: That’s an oversimplification of NATO financial obligations. NATO members are not in arrears on payments. They committed in 2014 to ensuring that by 2024, they would be spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their military budgets. Most NATO countries are spending less than that now, and Washington is putting pressure on them to do more.


In any event, the commitment is for these nations to spend more on their own military capabilities not to hand over money.