On the eve of the election here’s a look at some of the false and misleading claims from Trump’s sons.
The coronavirus has been the subject of a ton of misinformation online, some of which has been spread by Trump Jr. Back in July, Twitter even restricted his account for sharing a video that spread false information about hydroxychloroquine.
Here are some of the more notable claims he’s made about the coronavirus.
During a Fox News interview on Thursday, Trump Jr. said that the number of deaths from Covid-19 is now “almost nothing.”
“I went through the CDC data because I kept hearing about new infections,” Trump Jr. said, “but I was like, ‘Well, why aren’t they talking about deaths?’ Oh, oh, because the number is almost nothing.”
Facts First: This is false. The day Trump Jr. made this claim nearly 1,000 virus-related deaths were reported.
More than 231,000 people in the US have died from the virus.
You can watch a complete debunking of this claim from CNN’s Brianna Keilar here.
Testing and cases
In an interview with radio talk-show host Chris Stigall, Trump Jr. claimed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting an increase in US coronavirus cases because the country has increased testing.
“The reason they’re seeing more test cases pop up is because they’re doing 100 times the testing,” he said.
Facts First: Trump Jr.’s claim is comprehensively inaccurate, just as it’s been when his father has made the same claim repeatedly through the campaign and over the summer.
The spike in US coronavirus cases is not being caused by an increase in testing. As of October 26, just three days before Trump Jr.’s interview, The number of confirmed new cases was increasing at a faster rate than the number of new tests, according to the COVID Tracking Project
, an initiative that assembles and analyzes coronavirus data.
And the number of hospitalizations and deaths is also rising
, which shows that the increase in the case numbers isn’t merely being caused by tests capturing mild cases. Taken together, the numbers tell a consistent story: the situation in the US is genuinely getting worse.
You can read a longer fact check here.
In a tweet that’s since been retweeted over 26,000 times, Trump Jr. wrote
on October 26, “We went from 75,000 flu deaths last year in America to almost 0” and suggested the data was being manipulated.
On the Chris Stigall Show a few days later, he went so far as to specifically claim that this year’s flu deaths have been categorized as coronavirus deaths instead.
“Magically, the flu is also totally gone, right?” Trump Jr. said. “They’re just attributing everything to COVID because that’s their logic, it’s fear.”
Facts First: Trump Jr. was wrong on multiple counts.
When Trump Jr. mentioned last year’s flu deaths, it’s unclear whether he was referring to the previous flu season or flu deaths in 2019 alone. Either way, his estimate was off.
According to a preliminary report from the US Centers for DC, the US had 24,000 — 62,000 flu deaths during last year’s flu season, which lasted from October 1, 2019 through April 4, 2020. And an AFP tally of weekly data from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC, found that 7,250 Americans died of the flu in 2019, not 75,000. The same dataset showed over 8,000 flu deaths in 2020 so far. Only a handful of those deaths are from the 2020-2021 flu season which began at the end of September but that’s largely because only a month of data is currently available.
It’s possible that trend may continue but not because of any misattribution to Covid-19, as Trump Jr. claims. A CDC study published in September suggested that while it’s impossible to say what’s going to happen when flu season gets underway in the US this fall and winter, measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus, like social distancing, teleworking and school closures could also lead to a mild flu season this year. According to the study, “If extensive community mitigation measures continue throughout the fall, influenza activity in the United States might remain low and the season might be blunted or delayed.”
Eric Trump has also made false and misleading claims on an array of topics.
The younger son shared a photoshopped meme on October 20 that falsely pasted MAGA branding on the hats of Ice Cube and 50 Cent, ridiculously asserted
that his father had “literally saved Christianity,” tweeted a video that falsely claimed Biden used a teleprompter during an interview, and wrongly claimed that Barack Obama never visited Chicago as president.
Perhaps more dangerous than those, Eric Trump claimed on Friday that many ballots in New York were sent to voters, pre-filled out for Biden.
While discussing voter fraud in an interview with talk-radio host Lars Larson, Eric Trump baselessly claimed that there were “many ballots” found completely filled out for Biden.
“[I]n New York, people in Queens were getting ballots that were already filled out for Joe and Kamala,” Eric Trump said. “And, it’s been turned into authorities and, you know, there are many ballots found by many people, and again, the ballots were already fully filled out and mailed to them and literally just, you know, return these ballots.”
Facts First: According to the New York City Board of Elections there have been no reports of this occurring. The conspiracy theory revolves around a few tweets that have been debunked.
A Twitter user posted allegations that “Several Queens Village (NY) residents are receiving pre-filled out ballots for Joe Biden and being told to just send them back to the Board of Elections.”
The same user posted a video on October 30, allegedly showing one of these ballots.
The NYC Board of Elections replied
to the tweet saying the claims were false and that they “have communicated directly with the voter in question, who received a BLANK absentee ballot.”
The Associated Press reported that the absentee ballot, because it was placed in the wrong envelope, was then sent to the voter’s previous address in Queens.
On October 17, Eric Trump tweeted a picture of a large house, writing “The salary of a U.S. Senator is $174,000 per year. This is Joe Biden’s house…. seems legit.”
Facts First: The house was purchased by Biden for $185,000 in 1975 and was sold — following renovations — in 1996 for $1.2 million, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
Trump Jr.’s claim highlights some of the hypocrisy in the Trump campaign’s attacks. Unlike the President, Biden has released his tax returns for the past 22 years. Only in recent years have the Bidens brought in more than $400,000 per year.
In 2017, after leaving office, Biden and his wife Jill reported an income of $11 million and in 2018 they brought in $4.6 million. Much of the new revenue came from book sales and speaking engagements, according to Forbes.
CNN’s Daniel Dale and Andrew Kaczynski contributed to this report.