Read our fact check of the second presidential debate

Our team of in-house experts analyzed, fact checked and added context to the candidates’ statements during Sunday night’s debate. Here’s what they found:


HILLARY CLINTON: “I have a very positive and optimistic view about what we can do together. That’s why the slogan of my campaign is ‘Stronger Together.’ Because I think if we work together, if we overcome the divisiveness that sometimes sets Americans against one another, and instead we make some big goals — and I’ve set forth some big goals: Getting the economy to work for everyone, not just those at the top, making sure that we have the best education system from preschool through college, making it affordable, and so much else…”
DONALD TRUMP: “Well, I actually agree with that. I agree with everything she said. I began this campaign, because I was so tired of seeing such foolish things happen to our country. This is a great country. This is a great land. I’ve gotten to know the people of the country over the last year and a half that I’ve been doing this as a politician…. I cannot believe that I’m saying about myself, but I guess I have been a politician. And my whole concept was to make America great again.”

More on that…
Are these the same candidates? The first few minutes were a torrent of positivity. Why? Voters. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been unable to change one of the voter perceptions that matters the most: their approval ratings. According to Gallup, Trump has been polled at about 63 percent unfavorable and Clinton at 55 percent unfavorable for weeks.
— Lisa Desjardins, Correspondent


“But Bill Clinton was abusive to women. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously. Four of them are here tonight. One of the women, who is a wonderful woman, at 12 years old was raped — at 12. Her client she represented got him off, and she’s seen laughing on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl who was raped. Kathy Shelton, that young woman, is here with us tonight. So don’t tell me about words. Absolutely I apologize for those words.”

A reminder…
Kathy Shelton was raped in Arkansas when she was 12 years old. Hillary Clinton was an attorney at the time and defended Shelton’s rapist, who received a reduced charge after pleading guilty in the case.
— Daniel Bush, Digital politics reporter


“I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family. I apologized to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it, but this is locker room talk.”

More on that…
Professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and NHL took to Twitter to refute Trump’s characterization of his comments on the recently released tape as “locker room talk,” the Associated Press reports. Trump used the phrase to downplay the impact of his 2005 comments after Anderson Cooper asked, “You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” Trump responded that his original comments that he kissed and groped women without their consent, were misunderstood. “I haven’t heard that one in any locker rooms,” Tweeted C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trailblazers.
— Travis Daub, Director of digital


“But what President Clinton did — he was impeached. He lost his license to practice law. He had to pay $850,000 to one of the women, Paula Jones, who is also here tonight.”

A reminder…
Paula Jones filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton in 1994, alleging that he had exposed himself to her and propositioned her while he was governor and she an Arkansas state employee. In a deposition in that lawsuit, Clinton denied for the first time having had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton settled the Jones suit in 1998 for $850,000, with no admission of guilt or apology.
— Daniel Bush, Digital politics reporter


“When I watch the deals being made, when I watch what’s happening with some horrible things, like Obamacare for your health insurance, and health care is going up by numbers that are astronomical — 68 percent, 59 percent, 71 percent…”

More on that…
Donald Trump cited soaring health insurance rates “going up by numbers that are astronomical — 68 percent, 59 percent, 71 percent” as proof that the Affordable Care Act isn’t working and needs to be repealed and replaced quickly. Nationwide, insurance rates are expected to rise an average of 25.5 percent in the upcoming open enrollment season, with rates spiking much higher in some spots: Texas Blue Cross, for example, plans to hike rates on the exchange by nearly 60 percent. Hillary Clinton — who wants to retain and expand upon the ACA — says changes will be needed to stabilize the insurance market. Trump was expected to mention the ACA’s troubles in his first remarks after President Bill Clinton famously called Obamacare “the craziest thing in the world” last week: “You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden, 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half.”
— Jason Kane, Health producerMore on that…
Hillary Clinton said during the debate that new benefits to employer-sponsored insurance would be gone with the elimination of the ACA, and many experts have suggested that could be the case. At the same time, they have also said Congress would feel pressure to keep those benefits intact somehow. How that could be worked out with the insurance companies is not entirely clear, and it’s not clear if the insurers would remain committed to doing so.

Trump made the case tonight for selling insurance across state lines as a possible alternative to Obamacare. For example, it remains unclear if there’s a way to make sure specific networks of doctors and hospitals would be covered from state. There are also concerns as to whether some insurers would try to relocate to other states in a “race to the bottom” with cheaper insurance that is less regulated. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the complications in a video from Julie Rovner and Kaiser Health News.
— Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor


“There is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and I… that any classified material ended up in the wrong hands. I take classified materials very seriously and always have.”

More on that…
Clinton is on both solid and rocky ground here. The solid ground? The FBI did conclude that “we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain … was successfully hacked.” BUT the FBI also found that there was “evidence that (Clinton and her colleagues) were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly-classified information.” In speaking with the FBI, Clinton said she did not recall receiving the required training about how to handle classified documents and that she relied on her staffers to make correct decisions about classifications.
— Lisa Desjardins, Correspondent


“You will have the finest health care plan there is. She wants to go to a single-payer plan. Which would be a disaster. Somewhat similar to Canada. And if you haven’t noticed the Canadians, when they need a big operation, when something happens, they come into the United States in many cases. Because their system is so slow, it’s catastrophic in certain ways. But she wants to go to single payer. Which means the government basically rules everything. Hillary Clinton has been after this for years. Obamacare was the first step. Obamacare is a total disaster. And not only are your rates going up by numbers that nobody’s ever believed, but your deductibles are going up. So that unless you get hit by a truck, you are never going to be able to use it. It is a disastrous plan, and it has to be repealed.”

Here’s what we know…
Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton “wants to go to single-payer. Which means the government basically rules everything. Hillary Clinton has been after this for years.” While the leaked transcripts of Clinton’s paid speeches show her supporting single-payer systems, Clinton has campaigned on expanding and improving upon the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare.” She has endorsed a “public option,” in which a government insurance plan competes with private plans on the market.
— Jason Kane, Health producer


AUDIENCE MEMBER: “There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, and I’m one of them. You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?

TRUMP: “You’re right about Islamophobia, and that’s a shame.”

More on that…
Last year, Donald Trump proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the country as part of his plan to combat terrorism. The proposal sparked intense criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump later backtracked from the proposal, saying he would scrutinize immigrants from specific countries.
— Daniel Bush, Digital politics reporter


“We have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on, they have to report it. As an example, in San Bernardino, many people saw the bombs all over the apartment of the two people that killed 14 and wounded many, many people – horribly wounded. They will never be the same.”

More on that…
There has been no evidence nor public statements from neighbors of the San Bernardino bombers, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, that these neighbors had seen “bombs all over the apartment.” Some did tell reporters that they saw them “‘working at strange hours in their garage.”
— Margaret Warner, Senior correspondent


“She’s raising your taxes really high…She is raising everybody’s taxes massively.”

Here’s what we know…
Trump’s claim is not accurate. Clinton would indeed seek to fund many of her proposals by increasing taxes on wealthier citizens, and some analysts have found that the rates could appreciate substantially for that group. But she has stated repeatedly — as she did tonight — that she would not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year.
— Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor


ANDERSON COOPER: (referring to Trump’s $916 million tax loss as reported in the New York Times): “Did you use that loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?”

DONALD TRUMP: “Of course, I do. Of course, I do.”

Here’s what we know…
This is the most explicit and public acknowledgement from Donald Trump throughout this campaign — or in years past — saying that there have been years when he did not pay federal taxes because of the depreciation from his losses. Cooper tried to pin down how many years he did not pay federal tax but Trump would not reveal that and again said he would only release his returns after an audit was completed. But this is the most public statement and admission Trump has made in this campaign.
— Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor


DONALD TRUMP: “First of all, she was there as Secretary of State with the so-called ‘line in the sand.'”

HILLARY CLINTON: “No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you, but at some point, we need to do some fact-checking here.”

DONALD TRUMP: “Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened. Now, with that being said, she talks tough against Russia, but our nuclear program has fallen way behind, and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good. Our government shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. Russia is new in terms of nuclear. We’re old, we’re tired, we’re exhausted in terms of nuclear. A very bad thing.”

Here’s what we know…
They’re both wrong, and both right. Hillary Clinton was in fact secretary of state on August 20, 2012 when President Obama said in the White House briefing room: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime…that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.” His aides were reportedly surprised by what they described as the president ad-libbing. But John Kerry was secretary of state on August 20, 2013 when President Obama – after declaring his intention to launch air strikes against Assad’s chemical weapons facilities — walked back from that vow. He said that he would first “seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.” That approval did not materialize. Instead, Kerry and the Russian foreign minister teamed up to force Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons under UN auspices.
— Margaret Warner, Senior correspondent


MARTHA RADDATZ: “And I want to remind you what your running mate said. He said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength, and that if Russia continues to be involved in airstrikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

DONALD TRUMP: “OK. He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree.”

MARTHA RADDATZ: “You disagree with your running mate?”

DONALD TRUMP: “I think we have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time.”

More on that…
Most presidential tickets are in sync on major issues. But there has been an unusual amount of discord between Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, who has expressed opposition to some of Trump’s key positions, like his call to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the country.
— Daniel Bush, Digital politics editor


DONALD TRUMP: “Well, one thing I’d do is get rid of carried interest. One of the greatest provisions, for people like me, to be honest with you — I give up a lot when I run, because I knock out the tax code.”

Here’s what we know…
Eliminating the carried interest deduction would have no effect on Mr. Trump’s finances, unless he is a professional money manager who engages in partnerships with his investors. The question I would ask: If he were President, would he change the tax laws so that loss carry-forwards such as those Mr. Trump has acknowledged using would be eliminated or modified? And would he eliminate and modify the depreciation tax loopholes he also just said he uses?
— Paul Solman, Business and economics correspondent


DONALD TRUMP: “Her and Obama, whether you like it or not, the way they got out of Iraq – the vacuum they’ve left, that’s why ISIS formed in the first place. They started from that little area, and now they’re in 32 different nations.”

More on that…
Lots to unpack here. Trump is incorrect that ISIS formed in the “vacuum” left after the December 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. That was a date negotiated by the Bush administration in 2008. There is still debate over whether the Obama administration could have left a sizable force in Iraq – negotiations between the U.S. and the Iraqi government broke down, reportedly, over legal protections for U.S. troops.

The precursor group to ISIS was formed five years earlier, in 2006, from the militant group known as al-Qaida in Iraq. AQI as it was known, pledged its allegiance to what’s known as core al-Qaida (the original, bin Laden organization) in 2004, and was run by a Jordanian militant named abu Musab al Zarqawi. He was noted for his brutality — the beheading videos that became ISIS’s macabre calling card were his stock in trade — and often ran afoul of bin Laden, who criticized Zarqawi’s bloodlust.The November 2004 battle for Fallujah was aimed, in part, at al-Qaida in Iraq’s leadership there, most of whom escaped. (ISIS would retake the city in 2014, and hold it until June of this year) The U.S. spent years hunting down AQI and similar groups, with thousands of special operations troops and supporting personnel. Zarqawi was targeted and killed in a 2006 airstrike. The group went on to rename itself the Islamic State of Iraq later that year, and largely went to ground. But it did find greater space to operate in the space left by the American withdrawal, and it found fertile ground in the Sunni reaches of western Iraq where a Shia-led central government was seen as simultaneously neglectful and repressive.

ISIS became one of the dizzying number of militant groups in the Syrian war, and gained significant battlefield experience and, again, was known for its brutality. It gained strength, both in numbers, land under its control, and money; and since its 2014 blitzkrieg across Iraq, now has major affiliates in Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh, among other countries.
— Morgan Till, Foreign affairs editor


DONALD TRUMP: “But if you look at Russia — just take a look at Russia — and look at what they did this week. Where I agree she wasn’t there, but possibly she’s consulted. We sign a peace treaty. Everyone’s all excited.”

Here’s what we know…
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov did not agree on a peace treaty. In September, they did agree on a temporary cease fire, as a first step. The U.S. was to then separate the Western-backed rebels from the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, and ultimately the U.S. and Russia were to work together against the Islamic State. First, it was not a treaty (which would require Senate confirmation.) And it was not for “peace,” just a lull in the fighting to spare Aleppo. The deal collapsed in less than two weeks, with bombing (deliberate and inadvertent) by both sides. Within days, Russia had joined the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in bombing the besieged city of Aleppo. Kerry and Obama have pulled the plug on further negotiations with the Russians on the cooperation plans for now.
— Margaret Warner, Senior correspondent


HILLARY CLINTON: “So let me talk about my 30 years in public service. I’m very glad to do so. Eight million kids every year have health insurance because when I was first lady, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

Here’s what we know…
Recent analysis by The Washington Post suggests that the real drivers behind the Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation were Sen. Edward Kennedy and Sen. Orrin Hatch: “Behind the scenes, Hillary Clinton was apparently an advocate for their effort, including ensuring the budget for the health plan was as large as possible.”
— Jason Kane, Health producer


DONALD TRUMP: “Energy is under siege by the Obama administration, under absolute siege. The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, is killing these energy companies, and foreign companies are now coming in and buying our, buying so many of our different plants and then re-jiggering the plants so that they can take care of their oil. We are killing, absolutely killing our energy business in this country. Now I’m all for alternative forms of energy, including wind, including solar, et cetera, but we need much more than wind and solar. You look at our miners, Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business. There is a thing called clean coal. Coal will last for 1,000 years in this country. Now we have natural gas and so many other things because of technology. We have unbelievable, we have found over the last seven years, we have found tremendous wealth under our feet. So good.”

Here’s what we know…
U.S. coal production is set to hit its lowest levels since 1949, but it has little to do with the Environmental Protection Agency. The main culprit is cheap natural gas, which has outcompeted coal in recent years, due to the dropping costs of oil and natural gas extraction. In 2015, renewables recorded their largest share of energy production since the 1930s, and clean energy may supplant coal in the next couple of years. Also, Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which has stalled due to lawsuits, may spur renewables down the line. But Trump is right. There is an idea called clean coal, but it isn’t based in reality at the moment. That’s because the technology required to capture and store carbon emissions doesn’t exist yet.
— Nsikan Akpan, Digital science producer

A reminder…
It seems that Trump is significantly overstating the case here. It’s true that many energy companies — particularly those who produce or rely on coal — are concerned about the Obama Administration’s policies on climate change and reducing emissions with tougher requirements and modernization to power plants. But the Obama Administration also has frequently been supportive of domestic oil production as well as fracking. As Amy Harder of the Wall Street Journal points out on the decline in the energy sector in the past couple of years, “It’s more the low oil, natural gas and coal prices that have pummeled the fossil-fuel industry than anything else.” For her part, Clinton said she has a plan to revitalize coal country. She has proposed $30 billion in aid, assistance and job training. But as Politico noted earlier this year, leaders in the business say it rings hollow and will not provide nearly equivalent jobs or income. During a town hall in March, Clinton did say she would put a lot of coal miners and companies out of business. She later said it was a misstatement and meant to say that’s the way things were moving.
— Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor


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