At a rally this past week, Donald Trump placed himself too high in the pantheon of presidents when it comes to getting his judicial picks on federal courts. A review:
TRUMP, on his record of filling federal judicial appointments: "There's only one person ... who percentage-wise has done better than me with judges." — Cincinnati rally Thursday.
THE FACTS: No, at least four have done better.
Trump is properly ceding first place to George Washington, who had a judiciary entirely made up of his choices simply because he was the first president. But he's not acknowledging that at least three modern presidents had a better record than Trump of getting their judicial choices on the courts. Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and former deputy director of the Federal Judicial Center, has been keeping track.
He found that Trump's confirmed judges make up 17% of total federal judgeships. At this point in their presidencies, John Kennedy had filled 30% of the federal judiciary, Bill Clinton had filled 20% and Nixon had filled 25%.
KAMALA HARRIS, senator from California: "We've got a person who has put babies in cages and separated children from their parents." — Democratic debate Wednesday.
MICHAEL BENNET, senator from Colorado, in a message directed at Trump: "Kids belong in classrooms not cages." — Democratic debate Wednesday.
TRUMP: "The cages for kids were built by the Obama Administration in 2014. He had the policy of child separation. I ended it even as I realized that more families would then come to the Border!" — tweet Wednesday.
The cages for kids were built by the Obama Administration in 2014. He had the policy of child separation. I ended it even as I realized that more families would then come to the Border! @CNN— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2019
THE FACTS: There's deception on both sides here.
Family separations as a matter of routine came about because of Trump's "zero tolerance" enforcement policy. President Barack Obama had no such policy and Trump's repeated attempts to pin one on him flies in the face of reality. Trump only ended — or suspended — what Trump had started, and that was after a judge ordered that the practice be sharply curtailed and as an international uproar grew.
Moreover, the American Civil Liberties Union now says in a legal challenge that more than 900 children were separated from their parents at the border in the year after the judge's order.
The Obama administration also separated migrant children from families when a child's safety appeared at risk with the adults or in other limited circumstances. But the ACLU says children have been removed after the judge's order for minor transgressions by the adults, like traffic offenses, or for unfounded suspicions of wrongdoing.
Trump, though, is correct in noting that the "cages" — chain-link enclosures inside border facilities where migrants have been temporarily housed, separated by sex and age — were built and used by the Obama administration. Democrats routinely ignore that fact when they assail Trump for what they call the cruelty of putting "babies in cages." The Trump administration has been using the same facilities as the Obama administration.
ECONOMY and WAGES
TRUMP: "The facts speak far louder than words! The Democrats always play the Race Card, when in fact they have done so little for our Nation's great African American people. Now, lowest unemployment in U.S. history, and only getting better." — tweet on July 28.
....a look, the facts speak far louder than words! The Democrats always play the Race Card, when in fact they have done so little for our Nation’s great African American people. Now, lowest unemployment in U.S. history, and only getting better. Elijah Cummings has failed badly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2019
THE FACTS: Trump is seeking credit he doesn't deserve for black job growth. He's also wrong to assert that Democrats haven't done anything to improve the economic situation for African Americans.
It's true that black unemployment did reach a record low during the Trump administration: 5.9 percent in May 2018. It currently stands at 6 percent.
But many economists view the continued economic growth since the middle of 2009, when Obama was in office, as the primary explanation for hiring. More important, there are multiple signs that the racial wealth gap is now worsening and the administration appears to have done little, if anything, to specifically address this challenge.
African Americans also had higher income prior to the Trump administration. A black household earned median income of $40,258 in 2017, the latest data available. That's below a 2000 peak of $42,348, according to the Census Bureau.
The most dramatic drop in black unemployment came under Obama, when it fell from a recession high of 16.8 percent in March 2010 to 7.8 percent in January 2017.