FACT CHECK: 4 Claims From The 2020 Vice Presidential Debate
Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris squared off on Wednesday night for the only vice presidential debate. The event, moderated by USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page, took place in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Here are four checks on their claims.
Claim 1: “They want to abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking,” said Pence.
Harris supported banning fracking during her presidential campaign, according to CBS News. During the Democratic primary, former Vice President Joe Biden also at times expressed opposition to fossil fuels. However, their climate change plan, titled “The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice,” does not include a total ban on either.
It calls for “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters.” That would not ban existing fracking on public lands or prohibit fracking on private lands, where, according to a 2018 Congressional Research Service report, more natural gas production occurs.
Their climate change plan proposes eliminating subsidies for coal and gas. It also has a stated goal of achieving a “100% clean energy economy” and reaching “net-zero emissions no later than 2050,” according to Biden’s website.
Claim 2: “The president said it [the coronavirus] was a hoax,” said Harris.
Harris is likely referencing comments President Donald Trump made during a Feb. 28 campaign rally in South Carolina. At the event, Trump referred to the Democrats’ criticism and alleged “politicizing” of his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as “their new hoax.” He did not refer to the coronavirus itself as a hoax, the video and transcript from the rally show.
During a news conference on Feb. 29, Trump clarified that he was “referring to the action that they take to try and pin this on somebody because we’ve done such a good job.” “The hoax is on them,” he said. “I’m not talking about what’s happening here. I’m talking what they’re doing. That’s the hoax.”
Claim 3: “He [Trump] suspended all travel from China, the second largest economy in the world,” said Pence.
However, the travel restrictions did not suspend “all travel” from China. They had 11 exceptions, including those for U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members. The special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau were also excluded, according to the executive order.
An analysis from The New York Times found that nearly 40,000 people arrived in the U.S. on direct flights from China in the two months after the travel restrictions went into effect. The Associated Press also reported that an analysis of Commerce Department travel entry records and private aviation data showed nearly 8,000 Chinese nationals and foreign residents from Hong Kong and Macau flew to the U.S. in the first three months after the travel restrictions.
Claim 4: “Do you know that of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the Court of Appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is Black?” asked Harris.
Data from the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) shows that Trump has appointed 53 federal appeals court judges. None of them are black, according to the same FJC data. Bloomberg Law also reported in late June that not a single one of Trump’s confirmed appeals court judges was black.
There are currently 21 sitting black U.S. appellate court judges, including eight appointed by former President Barack Obama and four appointed by former President George W. Bush, per data from FJC. At least eight federal judges appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate are black.
Elias Atienza, Trevor Schakohl and Brad Sylvester contributed to this report.
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