The Slatest

Trump’s Week of Fearmongering and Falsehoods

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on Oct. 8, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

So much for that sober and serious conversation that was supposed to break out in the wake of this month’s Paris attacks. Here’s a quick round-up of the fearmongering and falsehoods that were offered up this past week from Donald Trump, a man who has seen his leads in GOP and state polls increase since the most deadly terrorist attack on European soil in more than a decade.

He is open to the idea of closing down mosques.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday, Nov. 16, Trump suggested he was open to closing down mosques in the United States. “I would hate to do it, but it’s something you’re going to have to strongly consider,” he said, adding: “You’re going to have to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talking is going on at the mosques.”

He won’t rule out a Muslim registry.

Speaking to Yahoo News on Thursday, Trump signaled that he was open to forcing Muslims in the United States to register in a government database. “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before,” he said. (As I explained last week, despite the headlines to the contrary, a close reading of the comments he made to an NBC reporter later Thursday suggest that he never actually offered a full-throated endorsement of such a database.)

He wants to bring back waterboarding.

During a Sunday interview with ABC News, Trump made it clear that he would bring back what President George W. Bush dubbed “enhanced interrogation” and what President Obama called “torture.” “I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head,” Trump said. “That’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”

He says Muslims in New Jersey cheered on 9/11.

Over the weekend, Trump repeated a long-debunked claim that a large group of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated on Sept. 11, 2001. “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” he told a crowd at an Alabama rally on Saturday. “And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” Confronted by the fact there is no evidence such celebrations actually occurred, Trump stuck to his story on Sunday. “It did happen, I saw it,” Trump said on ABC. “It was on television. I saw it.”

He is fine with his supporters beating up a Black Lives Matter activist at his event.

During Trump’s Alabama rally on Saturday, a well-known local Black Lives Matter activist who had attempted to interrupt the event was reportedly pushed to the ground, kicked, and punched by several Trump supporters in the audience. On Sunday, the GOP front-runner suggested that the man had it coming. “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox News. “I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble.”

He is tweeting out bogus, racist crime stats.   

On Sunday afternoon, Trump took a break from spewing hate about Muslims and supporting violence at his rallies to tweet out bogus crime stats that suggested that black Americans were responsible for the vast majority of killings of both white and other black people in the U.S.—a claim that flies in the face of what we know about homicides:

The problem? Well, for starters, there doesn’t appear to be any actual “Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco.” But much more importantly, the numbers aren’t even close to being accurate. According to the most recently released crime stats from the FBI (from 2014), white people were responsible for 82 percent of white murders (not 16 percent). The Trump-cited figure for black murders is also off: Black people were responsible for 90 percent of them (not 97 percent); and white people were responsible for 8 percent (not 2 percent). As I’ve noted before, government data on the number of people killed by police in a given year is shamefully incomplete, though the data we do have suggests that blacks die at the hands of police disproportionately to whites.

Donald Trump leads the RealClearPolitics rolling average of national polls by nearly five points, and is also the current leader in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the states that hold the first three nominating contests of 2016.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the GOP primary.