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Fact check: Trump’s Post-conviction Monologue (Rant) was Filled with FALSE Claims

*Washington (CNN) — Former President Donald Trump said he was going to hold a “press conference” on Friday in the wake of his Thursday conviction in Manhattan on felony charges of falsifying business records.

Instead, Trump delivered a rambling monologue that was filled with false claims on subjects ranging from the Manhattan trial to immigration to tax policy.

Here is a fact check of some of the inaccurate or unsubstantiated claims he made.

Crime in New York City

Trump repeated his familiar claim that, while Manhattan prosecutors have been focusing on him, New York City has been experiencing record-high violent crime. He said this time that “you have violent crime all over this city at levels that nobody’s ever seen before.”

NYC skyline - Depositphotos
NYC skyline – Depositphotos

Facts First: Trump’s claim is not even close to true. Violent crime in New York City – and violent crime in Manhattan in particular – has plummeted since the early 1990s and is today nowhere near record levels.

New York City recorded 391 murders in 2023, down about 83% from the 2,262 in 1990; 1,455 rapes in 2023, down about 53% from the 3,126 in 1990; and 16,910 robberies in 2023, down about 83% from the 100,280 in 1990.

Michael Cohen’s crimes

Criticizing key prosecution witness Michael Cohen, Trump repeated a claim he made during the trial in April. He asserted that Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, “got into trouble not because of me” but because of “outside deals” and “something to do with taxicabs and medallions, and he borrowed money, and that’s why he went.” He added that Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations to try to get himself a lighter penalty.

Trump continued: “He got in trouble for a very simple reason: because he was involved with borrowing a lot of money and he did something with the banks – I don’t know, defrauded the banks, but something happened.”

Facts First: Trump’s claim that Cohen got into trouble simply because of his non-Trump-related activities, such as those related to taxis and loans, is not true. First, Cohen’s case was referred to federal prosecutors in New York by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate any connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Second, Cohen’s three-year prison sentence in 2018 was for multiple crimes, some of which were directly related to Trump. 

Michael Cohen - Donald Trump (Getty)
Michael Cohen – Donald Trump (Getty)

Most notably, Cohen was sentenced for campaign finance offenses connected to a hush money scheme during the 2016 presidential campaign to conceal Trump’s alleged extramarital relationships – the same hush money scheme that was central to this prosecution against Trump. Cohen was also sentenced to two months in prison, to run concurrently with the three-year sentence, for lying to Congress in 2017 in relation to previous talks about the possibility of building a Trump Tower in Moscow, Russia, including about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the aborted Moscow initiative and about when in 2016 the discussions ended. (The discussions continued into June 2016, the month after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and did not conclude in January 2016 before the first votes were cast, as Cohen had claimed.)

Referring to Trump as “Individual-1,” Cohen said at the time of his 2018 guilty plea for making false statements to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: “I made these statements to be consistent with Individual-1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual-1.” When Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to the campaign finance violations, he said he broke the law “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” Trump.

Biden and the case

Trump repeated his frequent claim that the Manhattan case in which Trump was convicted “is all done by Biden and his people” and “in total conjunction with white house and the DOJ,” the federal Department of Justice.

Facts FirstThere is no basis for Trump’s claim. There is no evidence that President Joe Biden, his White House aides or the federal Justice Department had any role in launching or running Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution – and Bragg, a Democrat, is a locally elected official who does not report to the federal government. The indictment in the case was approved by a grand jury of ordinary citizens.

Trump has repeatedly invoked a lawyer on Bragg’s team, Matthew Colangelo, while making such claims; Colangelo left the Justice Department in 2022 to join the district attorney’s office as senior counsel to Bragg. But there is no evidence that Biden had anything to do with Colangelo’s employment decision. Colangelo and Bragg had been colleagues before Bragg was elected Manhattan district attorney in 2021.

Before Colangelo worked at the Justice Department, he and Bragg worked at the same time in the office of New York’s state attorney general, where Colangelo investigated Trump’s charity and Trump’s financial practices and was involved in bringing various lawsuits against the Trump administration.

The judge and an expert in election law

Trump claimed that, because of Judge Juan Merchan, “we weren’t allowed to use our election expert under any circumstances.” He claimed that this expert on election law was ready to testify “and the judge knocked him out, said you can’t testify.”

Facts FirstTrump’s claim that Merchan refused to allow Trump’s team to use this witness “under any circumstances” is false. Merchan did not prohibit the potential witness, former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith, from testifying. Rather, Merchan limited what Smith was allowed to testify about. Merchan decided in March that Smith could provide background information about the FEC and define certain terms relevant to this case but could not opine on whether Trump broke federal election laws or offer opinions about how to interpret or apply those laws. After Merchan refused last week to change his mind, Trump’s defense decided not to call Smith as a witness. 

Smith wrote on social media last week: “Judge Merchan has so restricted my testimony that defense has decided not to call me.”

Trump, offering a hint of a clarification, did proceed to say on Friday that Smith “essentially” was not able to testify. But his earlier comments made it sound like Merchan had imposed a total ban on Smith’s testimony.

Immigration and ‘the Congo’

Trump repeated a claim he has made before about “the Congo” and migration, again without specifying whether he was referring to the Democratic Republic of Congo or the neighboring Republic of Congo. He said: “The Congo has just released a lot of people from jail – Congo, Africa – just released a lot of people, a lot of people, from their prisons and jails, and brought them into the United States of America.”

Facts FirstTrump’s claim is baseless. Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, plus both pro-immigration and anti-immigration organizations in the US, told CNN they have not seen any evidence of Congolese prisons being emptied, let alone evidence of either country somehow having “brought” ex-prisoners into the US. Trump’s presidential campaign and an allied super PAC did not respond to requests to provide any evidence. A CNN search of two media databases turned up no evidence. And federal figures show that there is no “very big” influx of Congolese migrants of any kind, let alone former prisoners in particular.

“Everything he is saying isn’t true,” Democratic Republic of Congo spokesperson Patrick Muyaya Katembwe told CNN in a text message in March. Asked specifically about Trump’s claims about Congolese prisons being emptied of violent criminals, he said, “Never ever, it’s not true.” And, he said, “we want him to stop” telling these stories, since “it’s very bad for the country.”

Serge Mombouli, the Republic of Congo’s ambassador to the US, said in an email to CNN in March: “There is no truth or any sign nor a single fact supporting such a claim or statement.”

You can read more here.

Trump and Nord Stream 2

Trump repeated his claim that he had ended a key Russian project – the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany. He said: “You know, I ended the Russian pipeline. It was dead.”

Facts FirstTrump’s claim is false. He did not “end” Nord Stream nor render it “dead.” While he did approve sanctions on companies working on the project, that move came nearly three years into his presidency, when the pipeline was already around 90% complete – and the state-owned Russian gas company behind the project said shortly after the sanctions that it would complete the pipeline itself. The company announced in December 2020 that construction was resuming. And with days left in Trump’s term in January 2021, Germany announced that it had renewed permission for construction in its waters.

The pipeline never began operations; Germany ended up halting the project as Russia was about to invade Ukraine in early 2022. The pipeline was damaged later that year in what has been described as a likely act of sabotage.

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