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Hectic morning on the White House lawn: Trump speaks, and so do the facts

President Trump took questions from reporters Friday morning on the White House lawn, covering a number of topics on which his comments have at times strayed from the truth. Below are some of his remarks, annotated and checked for accuracy:

“I think that the report yesterday, maybe more important than anything totally, exonerates me. There was no collusion, there was no obstruction and if you read the report you’ll see that.”

The report from the FBI’s inspector general did not exonerate Trump because it wasn’t investigating Trump, but instead was focused on the Department of Justice’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. It was critical of former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch but did not attempt to settle the question of whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

“Like, Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. … Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. … He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something?”

Paul Manafort was the chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign for 144 days — from March 29, 2016, to Aug. 19, 2016. “Paul is a great asset and an important addition as we consolidate the tremendous support we have received in the primaries and caucuses, garnering millions more votes than any other candidate,” then candidate Trump said in a statement the day Manafort was hired. When campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was fired on June 20, he told the Associated Press, “Paul Manafort has been in operational control of the campaign since April 7. That’s a fact.”

“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”

There is no law that requires the mass separation of migrant children from their parents at the border. The increase in the number of minors being taken into federal custody, now totaling over 10,000, results from a White House policy change announced on April 6 by Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for the criminal prosecution of anyone attempting to cross the border illegally. Previously, these cases were generally handled by immigration courts in a process that did not require families to be separated. Department of Homeland Security officials said this year in a memo obtained by the Washington Post that separating families would be the “most effective” way of attempting to deter immigration at the southern border. Many of the attempted immigrants were attempting to claim asylum.

President Trump speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington on Friday. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

“Let’s not talk about it. You know what that is? It’s irrelevant. It’s a statement to the New York Times — the phony, failing New York Times. That’s not a statement to a high tribunal of judges. That’s a statement to the phony New York Times.”

Trump was referring to a series of lies from the White House last summer. When the New York Times first reported that Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the campaign, the White House told reporters that the meeting was about adoption, which was not true. When emails to and from Donald Jr. were published showing the real purpose was to share information about Hillary Clinton, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the president had not dictated the statement but instead had “weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do.” However, in January, Trump’s personal attorneys contradicted Sanders, writing that the president had “dictated” a “response to The New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.” (The statement called the response “short but accurate.” It was short, but it was not accurate.) Sanders has repeatedly refused to explain her false statement.

“He gave us the remains of our great heroes. I have had so many people begging me — parents, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons — wherever I went: Could you please get the remains of my boy back.”

Trump was referring to an offer by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to repatriate the remains of Americans killed in the Korean War. Trump has spoken frequently about being asked for help by the parents of American service members who died in the fighting in Korea, which ended in 1953. The parents of a man who was born in, say, 1933, making him 20 at the time of the armistice, would almost certainly be older than 100 now.

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