At CPAC, Trump misleads Biden, Russian pipeline and gas prices

Former President Donald J. Trump repeated familiar boasts and grievances in a keynote address to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly invoked the lie that the 2020 election was “rigged” and launched exaggerated attacks on President Biden. Even as he condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an “atrocity” and praised the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, as a “brave man”, he repeated his misleading claim that the Obama administration had simply provided Ukraine with “covers”.

Here is a fact check.

What Mr. Trump Said

“The wall will be completed quickly. We will build the wall and complete the wall in three weeks. It took two and a half years on the wall, two and a half years just to win all the litigation, more than 11 lawsuits that they threw at us. And we almost finished it, and I said they couldn’t be serious. They don’t want to close the little loops.

False. During his campaign in 2016, Mr. Trump promised to build a 1,000-mile-long border wall that would be paid for by Mexico. By the time he left office, his administration had built 453 miles of border wall, most of which replaced or reinforced existing barriers. In places where no barriers previously existed, the administration constructed a total of 47 miles of new primary wall.

Mr. Trump’s wish that he could have completed the wall in three weeks also does not match the initial pace of construction. Construction of replacement barriers in Calexico, California, began in February 2018, the first border wall project under Mr. Trump. Construction of the first new section of wall in the Rio Grande Valley began in November 2019. This represents 12.9 miles of replacement wall and 3.3 miles of new wall per month.

What Mr. Trump Said

“Just a year ago we had the most secure border in US history, record high gasoline prices.”

False. When Mr. Trump left office in January 2021, the national average price of a gallon of gasoline for that month was $2.42. It’s not a record. Gasoline prices fell to $2.21 in January 2015 under former President Barack Obama, $1.13 under former President George W. Bush, and $0.96 under former President Bill Clinton.

What Mr. Trump Said

“I am the one who terminated his pipeline. He said you were killing me with the pipeline. No one else has terminated their pipeline. Biden entered. He approved it.

It is misleading. Mr Trump was referring to the status of a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany under his administration and that of President Biden. In fact, US presidents – and most European countries other than Germany and France – have consistently opposed the project, but they have little say in the construction of the pipeline.

Mr. Trump signed a law imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in December 2019, causing a suspension of construction. But by then, most of the pipeline had already been built, with 2,100 kilometers laid and 300 kilometers remaining. Construction resumed a year later in 2020.

Current White House press secretary Jen Psaki has described Nord Stream 2 as a “bad deal” that divides Europe and leaves Ukraine and central Europe vulnerable to Russian manipulation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration’s opposition was “unwavering.”

But the State Department nonetheless lifted sanctions against the company building the pipeline in May 2021. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, this may be because “the administration’s ability to prevent the pipeline from becoming operational is limited” while sanctions “could jeopardize the United States”. German and US-European cooperation in other areas, including the fight against Russian aggression.

Mr Biden issued new sanctions on the pipeline this week after Germany announced it would suspend certification of the pipeline in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

What Mr. Trump Said

“The reason we have the gas price spike is because Biden shut down US energy, canceled our oil and gas leases just two days ago. Two days ago they canceled many oil and gas leases because of the environment.

It is misleading. The Biden administration has suspended new federal oil and gas leases and permits indefinitely in response to a court ruling. He did not revoke existing leases. A federal judge had blocked how the administration calculated the cost of climate change, leading the administration to suspend regulatory decisions that relied on the metric.

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