Fact-checking Trump’s Fox News town hall in Iowa



Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, took part in a Fox News town hall Tuesday in Iowa, less than six weeks out from the state’s GOP caucuses.

The event, held in front of a crowd in Davenport, was a pre-taped, hourlong interview hosted by Fox’s Sean Hannity. The former president made several claims over the course of the hour on topics ranging from the US withdrawal from Afghanistan to his criminal indictments.

CNN has previously fact-checked similar claims by Trump. Here’s a look at some of those claims that the former president repeated at Tuesday’s town hall:

In criticizing President Joe Biden’s handling of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2021, Trump claimed that “they also left $85 billion of the best military equipment, because I rebuilt the military. They left $85 billion, not million, billion, dollars worth of military equipment behind in the most embarrassing moment in the history of our country.”

Facts First: Trump’s $85 billion figure is false. While a significant quantity of military equipment that had been provided by the US to Afghan forces was indeed abandoned to the Taliban upon the US withdrawal, the Defense Department has estimated that this equipment had been worth about $7.1 billion – a chunk of the roughly $18.6 billion worth of equipment provided to Afghan forces between 2005 and 2021. And some of the equipment left behind was rendered inoperable before US forces withdrew.

As other fact-checkers have previously explained, the “$85 billion” is a rounded-up figure (it’s closer to $83 billion) for the total amount of money Congress appropriated during the war to a fund supporting the Afghan security forces. A minority of this funding was for equipment.

Trump called the charges stemming from the four criminal cases against him “made-up” and claimed that while he has been indicted four times, the legendary gangster Al Capone only got indicted once.

“I often say Al Capone, he was one of the greatest of all time, if you like criminals. He was a mob boss the likes of which – Scarface, they call him – he got indicted once. I got indicted four times,” Trump said.

Facts First: Trump’s claim that Capone was indicted only one time is false. Capone was indicted at least six times, as A. Brad Schwartz, the co-author of a book on Capone, has told CNN.

And that doesn’t include various criminal charges against Capone that did not involve an indictment, such as some misdemeanors, or obscure Capone cases for which CNN couldn’t immediately determine whether there was an indictment, which you can read more about here.

Capone was indicted three times in 1931 alone, the year he was famously convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. Schwartz, co-author of the book “Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago,” explained that these three indictments were: “A secret indictment for tax evasion handed down in March 1931 (before the statute of limitations ran out for charges from the year 1924)”; a larger indictment in June 1931, with more than 20 counts, for tax evasion in the period from 1925 to 1929; “and a bootlegging conspiracy indictment, based on the work of Eliot Ness and his Untouchables, later that same month.”

Before the landmark 1931 conviction, Capone was arrested, indicted and convicted in 1929 for carrying concealed weapons in Philadelphia. Schwartz also noted two lesser-known indictments of Capone that did not result in a conviction: a 1926 federal indictment for conspiracy to violate Prohibition laws and a 1933 county indictment for racketeering.

Trump faces 91 total counts over his two federal indictments and two local indictments in Georgia and New York. Schwartz said: “This isn’t a race, of course, but it may be worth noting that Capone is also way ahead in individual counts (the 1931 Prohibition indictment alone added up to five thousand conspiracy charges).”

Trump claimed he gave farmers from Iowa $28 billion from China: “That’s why I say I am going to win Iowa,” the former president said, adding, “I gave the farmers $28 billion, and I got it from China. Who else could do that?”

Facts First: Trump’s claims are wrong in two ways. First and most critically, this money wasn’t from China. Though the Trump administration made the payments because farmers had been hurt by his trade war with China, the aid money came from US taxpayers: Study after study, including one this year from the federal government’s bipartisan US International Trade Commission, has found that Americans have borne almost the entire cost of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. (And it is US importers, not Chinese exporters, who make the actual tariff payments to the government.)  Second, as The Washington Post noted in a recent fact check, the payments to farmers under Trump’s program totaled $23 billion, not “$28 billion,” per the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

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