FACT CHECK: Video Claims This Executive Order Signed By Trump Is Responsible For The Shipping Backlog

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A video shared on Instagram claims the shipping backlog at U.S. ports was caused by an executive order signed by former President Donald Trump barring countries that interfered in U.S. elections from trading with the U.S.


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Verdict: False

Executive Order 13959, which is mentioned in the video, deals with limiting Americans from financially investing into specific Chinese firms, not foreign interference in U.S. elections. The shipping backlog is caused by increased demand for consumer goods, as well as factors such as staffing shortages in the supply chain, according to a spokesperson for the Port of Los Angeles.

Fact Check: 

The TikTok video making the claim about the Trump-era executive order has been widely shared on Facebook and Instagram in recent days. It comes as the Californian ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are continuing to experience a backlog that has led to global supply chain issues, according to the Associated Press.

“So basically any country that’s been caught with foreign election interference can no longer legally trade with the U.S.,” the man in the video alleges at one point. “That is why you’re seeing all these ships stuck out there that can’t get into port, because they’re no longer allowed to.” (RELATED: Was Walmart Sold To A Group Of Chinese Investors?)

Text inside the video references Executive Order 13959; however, that order, signed in November 2020 by Trump, actually bars Americans from investing in certain Chinese companies that the U.S. government believes are linked to the Chinese military, intelligence and security apparatuses, according to The Wall Street Journal. The executive order does not altogether ban trade with China or any other country, a Check Your Fact review of its text found.

President Joe Biden in June issued an executive order expanding the list of Chinese companies that Americans are prohibited from investing in, CNN reported. The move was condemned by China, with a spokesperson for the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs alleging the U.S. “unscrupulously suppressed and restricted Chinese companies,” according to the outlet.

Scott Lincicome, a senior fellow in economic studies at the libertarian Cato Institute think tank, told Check Your Fact in an email that the claim China was barred from trading with the US was false, adding, “Trump imposed (and Biden maintained) tariffs on about half of all Chinese imports, but there’s no ban (and clearly plenty of imports still coming here).”

When asked about the cause of the shipping backlog, Phillip Sanfield, director of media relations for the Port of Los Angeles, referred Check Your Fact to comments he made to the Associated Press. He cited “unprecedented demand for consumer goods” as the cause, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Does Brad Raffensperger Have A Brother Who Works For Huawei?)

“Everything from the ports to the container terminals to the railroads to the lack of truck drivers, overfilled warehouses and staffing at warehouses,” he also told the Associated Press. “Every one of those nodes in the supply chain has been strained, and the result of that is a continued backlog at the L.A./Long Beach complex.”

Executive Order 13848, which Trump signed in 2018, does state that sanctions would be imposed on foreign individuals or countries who interfere or attempt to interfere in U.S. elections, according to ABC News. Potential sanctions mentioned in the executive order include “blocking and prohibiting all transactions in a person’s property and interests in property subject to United States jurisdiction,” “prohibitions on United States financial institutions making loans or providing credit to a person” and “restrictions on transactions in foreign exchange in which a person has any interest,” among others.

In March, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified version of the intelligence community assessment required by Executive Order 13848. The report stated that while some foreign actors did attempt to influence the outcome of the 2020 election, there were “no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 US elections, including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results.”

The Department of Treasury in April imposed sanctions on “16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government,” according to a press release. The sanctions blocked “all property and interests in property of these targets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction,” prohibited U.S. persons from “engaging in transactions with them,” and blocked “any entities 50 percent or more owned by one or more designated persons,” the press release states.

Biden in early September continued the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13848. In his continuation of the national emergency, Biden did note that “foreign powers have historically sought to exploit America’s free and open political system” but said “there has been no evidence of a foreign power altering the outcomes or vote tabulation in any United States election.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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