Historic Firsts Trump Claims To Have Achieved

While Donald Trump has certainly made some changes as president, he has occasionally made erroneous claims about his achievements, particularly regarding historical firsts. Many false claims made by Trump have reached substantial infamy, such as his assertion that the crowd present for his inauguration in January 2017 was the biggest ever. This was later proven to be false via aerial photos and past data. Some believe the things Trump said that aren't true are merely an aspect of his bombastic personality and his exaggerations are intentional and not meant to be taken 100% seriously. However, opponents classify the false information as deliberately misleading. Regardless of where you personally stand, being informed on the issue is important. 

The list of things Trump has lied about is varied. Often the topic is serious, such as when he boasted about unprecedented military action at the border, while other times the topic is less dire, such as claims about bolstering Stephen Colbert's ratings. There are also many things Trump claims he did for the first time in history, both major and minor, that have been done before, such as claims of historical achievements during his first days in office. To stay informed on the issue, read this chronological list with the most recent claims at the top. 

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  • Highest Poll Numbers In The History Of The Republican Party

    In July 2018, Donald Trump tweeted (pictured above) that he had the highest poll numbers in the history of the Republican Party, including Abraham Lincoln. In an interview with The Sun three days later, he repeated this claim. 

    While Trump's approval ratings within his own party were relatively high, there are several fallacies in regards to his statements. First, it is impossible to establish whether his ratings were higher than Lincoln's. Polls conducted during that time were non-scientific and no poll numbers for Lincoln exist that could be reasonably compared to Trump's numbers. The Gallup polls now used to assess approval ratings were not used until 1935. 

    In addition to this, Trump's Gallup polls are not higher than any Republic president in history. Politifact compared Trump's approval ratings at the time he made the claims to past Republican presidential approval ratings during similar points in their presidencies. At the time Trump made his claims, his approval rating was 85%. George W. Bush and Dwight Eisenhower polled higher than Trump, with ratings of 96% and 92% respectively. 

  • Sending Troops To The Border

    When discussing the security of the US-Mexico border in April 2018, Trump claimed that, in lieu of a wall, he would send troops to the border to ensure proper security measures could be put in place. He followed this statement with the bold claim, “That’s a big step, we really haven’t done that before, or certainly not very much before.”

    Every president since Ronald Reagan actually sent troops to the border, with Presidents George W. Bush and Barrack Obama both deploying thousands of troops to the border in 2006 and 2010, respectively. However, most recent missions focused more on logistical support and military surveillance rather than military action, although it's unclear if Trump intends to carry out military operations at the border.

  • Biggest State Of The Union Audience In History

    In February 2018, Trump claimed on Twitter (above) that his State of the Union address had the highest viewership of any State of the Union address in history.

    Nielsen data indicated that, since 1993, multiple State of the Union addresses saw higher ratings than Trump's 2018 speech. Obama’s first State of the Union speech from 2010 had 48 million viewers, as opposed to Trump’s roughly 46 million in 2018. Even prior to Obama’s 2010 address, George W. Bush garnered 51.8 million and 62.1 million viewers in 2002 and 2003 respectively. 

  • Biggest Tax Cut In History

    In his State of the Union address in January 2018, Trump claimed that the tax cuts Congress would pass would be the “biggest in history.” Later, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget discovered that Trump’s tax cut is only the eighth largest since 1918. 

  • Historically Low African American Unemployment Rates

    During his 2018 State of the Union address, President Trump attempted to take credit for the record highs in African American employment. He had previously made such claims on Twitter (above) and also pointed out the decline in Hispanic unemployment rates

    While Trump's claims of historical low African American unemployment rates were technically true, his words were met with much criticism and backlash. African American unemployment had been on the decline for the seven years leading up to Trump’s election and many saw the record low as a continuation of Obama-era reform. Some argued that, while African American unemployment rates did drop during the Trump presidency, it was not something Trump personally achieved. 

  • Using The Term "Priming The Pump" Metaphorically
    Photo: Dr. Marcus Gossler / WikiMedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Using The Term "Priming The Pump" Metaphorically

    When speaking with editors from The Economist in May 2017, Trump used the phrase “priming the pump.” This is a phrase commonly used to refer to a government taking action in attempt to stimulate economic growth. After using the term, Trump asked the interviewer if they had ever heard the phrase before. While the interviewer answered in the affirmative, Trump went on to say, "Because I haven't heard it. I mean, I just... I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It's what you have to do."

    The Americans Heritage Idioms Dictionary traced the phrase back to the 1880s, when it was used in a literal sense and meant to pour liquid through a pump prior to use. By the 1930s, the term was used colloquially to mean stimulating economic growth, meaning Trump did not coin the term in 2017.