Fact Check of the Day: Trump’s Inaccurate Claims About Highways, Immigration and Beyoncé From a Pennsylvania Rally

Fact Check of the Day

President Trump said his campaign rallies drew larger crowds than concerts for Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen. That was one of 15 inaccurate claims he made.

Linda Qiu

what was said

“Highways would take 21 years to get approved. We have it down to two years, and it’s going to be one year very shortly.”

President Trump, at a campaign rally on Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

the facts

This is exaggerated.

Mr. Trump has doubled a previously exaggerated claim about the permitting process for roads and infrastructure taking a decade. Average wait times for a permit ranged from three to six years from the fiscal years 1999 to 2016, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the average wait time was three years and 10 months, almost double Mr. Trump’s claim of a two-year period. (Data for the 2018 fiscal year, which ends in September, is not yet available.)

what was said

“Our first lottery winner — let’s see, he has seven convictions for theft. He’s killed nine people. And we’re getting him the hell out of our country and giving them to the stupid politicians that have been running the United States for many years.’”

the facts


Mr. Trump has previously said that other countries were not “giving us their best” through the diversity visa lottery program. He has now escalated that unsubstantiated — and vague — claim into a false one by suggesting that foreign governments are sending murderers through the program.

As The New York Times has previously explained, millions of individuals enter the lottery of their own volition, not because they were selected by a foreign government. A computer picks winners at random and, before receiving a visa, the people chosen must undergo a screening process that bars criminals.

what was said

“Chain migration. And this was a Schumer deal. Schumer wanted this.”

the facts


Mr. Trump is likely confusing the diversity lottery program with “chain migration” or family-based immigration. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the Senate minority leader, sponsored what became the diversity visa lottery in 1990, but family-based immigration has been a facet of American immigration policy long before Mr. Schumer’s political career began.

Family relationships have been a basis for admitting new immigrants since the 1920s, according to the Congressional Research Service, and the United States began promoting family reunification in 1952, which established a hierarchy that prioritized family members like spouses and children over siblings.

what was said

Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen “were drawing crowds smaller than my crowds.”

the facts


This is not the first time that Mr. Trump has compared crowd size to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s, though it appears to be the first time he has brought the Boss into the mix.

Mr. Trump has claimed 20,000 to 49,000 people attended his biggest rallies during the 2016 presidential campaign. Even taking Mr. Trump at his word, those figures pale in comparison to audiences that have assembled to hear Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Mr. Springsteen perform.

For example, Mr. Springsteen sold out a two-night show in May 2016 in Dublin, drawing an average of 80,000 people to each show. This June, Beyoncé and Jay-Z performed for a crowd of over 57,000 in Berlin. (In addition, it should be noted that fans purchase tickets to hear the musicians in question, while Mr. Trump’s rallies are free.)

Other claims

Mr. Trump also repeated several other claims The Times has previously debunked:

Source: Federal Highway Administration, Congressional Research Service, Billboard, The New York Times

Linda Qiu is a fact-check reporter, based in Washington. She came to the Times in 2017 from the fact-checking service PolitiFact. @ylindaqiu

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