Fact check: Trump makes false claim about murder rate

U.S. President Donald Trump receives a figurine of a sheriff during a meeting with county sheriffs at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2017.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX300LA

President Donald Trump promulgated the falsehood that the murder rate in the United States is at the highest it has been in 47 years during a meeting with the National Sheriff’s Association on Tuesday morning at the White House.

“Didn’t you know that?” Trump asked the group of sheriffs in front of reporters. “I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised because the press doesn’t like to tell it like it is. It wasn’t to their advantage to say that but the murder rate is the highest it’s been I guess from forty-five to forty-seven years.”

Contrary to Mr. Trump’s claim, the national crime rate remains at an almost historic low with a slight uptick in crime in some cities, according to the FBI’s most recent release of crime statistics in 2015.

While the 2015 murder rate – an estimated 4.9 homicides per 100,000 residents, per statistics from the FBI – is slightly higher than the 2014 murder rate of 4.4, it’s dramatically lower than the murder rate in 1980, which spiked at 10.2 homicides per 100,000 people.

Despite being widely debunked, Mr. Trump repeated this false claim throughout the duration of his campaign.

“And by the way, do you know, it was just announced that murder, is the highest its been in our country in 45 years? You’ve heard that, right?” Trump said during a Panama City Beach rally in October.

Kellyanne Conway, an advisor to Mr. Trump, presented a milquetoast defense of Mr. Trump’s statement today when grilled on the matter by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“When he talks about the 47 years and the rate, I’m handed the information, I think you referred to it as well, that we have had an increase from 2014 to 2015,” Conway said.

“He said it’s the highest murder rate in 47 years and the media doesn’t report it. And, again, Kellyanne, the media doesn’t report it because it’s a lie, because it’s not true,” Tapper replied.