Live fact-check of the third presidential debate

Last Updated Oct 20, 2016 12:26 AM EDT

11:47 p.m. Clinton says she will “not add a penny to the debt”

CLINTON STATEMENT: “I also will not add a penny to the debt. I have costed out what I’m going to do. He will, through his massive tax cuts, add $20 trillion dollars to the debt. Well, he mentioned the debt. We know how to get control of the debt. When my husband was president we went from a $300 billion dollar deficit to a $200 billion dollar surplus and were actually on the path to eliminating the national debt. When President Obama came into office he inherited the worst economic disaster since the great depression. He has cut the deficit by two thirds.”

FACT CHECK: True, but...

According to an analysis by the non-partisan Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), Hillary Clinton would likely add $200 billion to the debt over a decade, admittedly much less than $5.3 trillion CRFB estimates Donald Trump would add. 

However, Clinton’s plan doesn’t change the trajectory of the nation’s debt either. The non-partisan watchdog estimates that under a Clinton administration, the public-held national debt would remain follow the same track as current law -- the national debt will increase from roughly $14 trillion today to more than $23 trillion in a decade. That is an increase of $9 trillion. The CRFB adds that debt as a percentage of GDP would rise from nearly 77 percent of GDP today to 86 percent by 2026.

So while it is true that she’s not adding to the debt, she’s not exactly fixing it either, according to the CRFB.

--CBS News’ Nicole Sganga

11:34 p.m. Trump says Clinton and President Obama caused the violence at Trump rallies.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “If you look at what came out today, on the clips -- I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence. She’s the one, and Obama, that caused the violence. They hired people, they paid them $1,500, and they’re on tape saying be violent cause fights do bad things.”

FACT CHECK: Clinton and Obama did not cause violence at Trump rallies. 

The latest gotcha undercover video from conservative activist James O’Keefe appears to show operatives with Democratic ties bragging about stirring up violence at Trump rallies, especially at a rally in Chicago March 11 -- the one mentioned by Trump -- that was cancelled due to concerns over potential violence.

The two people in the video are Robert Creamer and Scott Foval. The Democratic National Committee in July paid about $26,000 to Mobilize, Creamer’s consulting firm (Creamer is a liberal activist based in Washington and Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s husband). Mobilize was hired to stage Democratic events outside Trump rallies. Creamer hired Foval to help with this. Foval made the most damning comments in O’Keefe’s video -- he’s shown saying, “I mean, honestly it’s not hard to get some of these (expletive) to pop off.” And those he claimed to have used for this purpose were union workers or mentally ill or homeless people.  

Foval was fired after the video was released, and Creamer, who did not, according to the Associated Press, say anything illegal or unethical, has ended his DNC contract, though he denies any wrongdoing and said O’Keefe’s video doesn’t reflect his ethical standards. Both Foval and Creamer denounced O’Keefe’s tactics.

The Washington Post says journalists at the UIC event reported students caused the disruption, not Americans United for Change where Foval worked. 

It’s also worth noting that O’Keefe’s videos are heavily edited and critics say they may paint the speakers’ comments out of context.

--CBS News’ Maggie Dore

11:21 p.m. Trump claims he didn’t “get anything” with money from his charitable organization, the Trump Foundation.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “The Trump Foundation, a small foundation, people contribute, I contribute, the money goes 100 percent -- 100 percent goes to different charities, including a lot of military. I don’t get anything, I don’t buy boats, I don’t buy planes.”

FACT CHECK: False.

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold found earlier this year that Trump has purchased two portraits of himself with charity money.

Another investigation by the Post found Trump had similarly bought bought a signed football helmet at a charity auction for $12,000. Trump never personally foot the bill; instead, the money was sent to the Susan G. Komen organization (the breast cancer awareness charity that hosted the auction) from Trump’s own charitable foundation.

Trump may even may have violated IRS code by “self-dealing,” according to Farenthold. The Post explained that if Trump uses the Trump Foundation’s money to buy something, it has to go to charitable use.

While it’s clear the Trump Foundation bought the portraits, for instance, it’s unclear if those portraits have gone to “charitable use.”

One of them was reportedly found by a Univision reporter at Champions Bar and Grill inside Trump Doral.

Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn said on MSNBC that Trump was storing the portraits. “There are IRS rules which specifically state that when a foundation has an item, an individual can store those items — on behalf of the foundation — in order to help it with storage costs,” he said, “And that’s absolutely proper.”

11:11 p.m. Clinton says the Affordable Care Act extended the solvency of Medicare.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “The Affordable Care Act extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund, so if he repeals it our Medicare problem gets worse.”

FACT CHECK: True.

According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in July, health care reform (along with other factors) has significantly improved Medicare’s financial outlook. The Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is now projected to remain solvent 11 years longer than before the Affordable Care Act was enacted.

The other parts of Medicare, coverage for physician and outpatient costs and prescription drugs. do not face insolvency and cannot run short of funds, according to CBPP.

--CBS News’ Maggie Dore

11:08 p.m. Donald Trump claims that Clinton would grant “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “She wants to give amnesty which is a disaster and very unfair to all of the people that are waiting in line for many, many years. We need strong borders...Hillary wants to give amnesty. She wants to have open borders.”

FACT CHECK: Clinton has called for introducing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, saying in the debate Wednesday night that she plans to introduce a “comprehensive immigration reform within the first 100 days -- with the path to citizenship.”

Trump is incorrect, however, in saying that Clinton wants to have “open borders.” As she stated in the debate, she voted for border security when she served as a U.S. senator from New York, and her immigration plan includes provisions for border security.

Of deporting criminal undocumented immigrants, Clinton said, “Anybody who should be deported, we should deport them.”

--CBS News’ Allyson Ross-Taylor

10:55 p.m. Trump claims health care premiums are going up more than 60 percent.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “The premiums are going up 60, 70, 80 percent. Next year they’re going to go up over 100 percent.”

FACT CHECK: False.

According to the independently run website ACASignups.net, which tracks these increases, premiums for 2017 will go up an average of 25 percent nationally. Some states will have increases that are higher than that average, like Arizona’s (57 percent increase); some will have lower increases, like California (13.2 percent increase). Rates for 2018 have not yet been set.

--CBS News’ Maggie Dore

10:46 p.m. To back up his claims of voter fraud and a “rigged” election, Trump says there are “millions” of people registered to vote that shouldn’t be.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote -- millions. This isn’t coming from me, this is coming from Pew report and other places. Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.”

FACT CHECK: Partially true. Trump is correctly citing a Pew Research Center report, but the statement is misleading about incidents of actual voter fraud.

Trump referenced on Wednesday a 2012 Pew Research Center report that said about about 24 million voter registrations were significantly inaccurate or no longer valid because people moved, had died or were inactive voters. The study found that there were 2.75 million people registered to vote in more than one state because they had moved, while there were 1.8 million registrations for people who were deceased.

But even with those reported inaccurate registrations, there is no evidence that widespread voter fraud actually exists. According to another Loyola University study analyzing about one billion ballots cast from 2000 to 2014 in general and primary elections, there were just 31 incidents of specific fraud allegations, according to a Loyola University study.

--CBS News’ Kate Rydell 

10:42 p.m. Clinton says Trump supported the Iraq war before the 2003 invasion.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “He has consistently denied what is a very clear fact – that before the invasion he supported it.” (Trump interjected with: “Wrong.”)

RULING: True.

CBS News has looked at this question in past debates, and the previous fact check stands: Trump did say he was in favor of the invasion of Iraq.

“Are you for invading Iraq?” Howard Stern asked him during his radio show in September 2002. Trump answered, “Yeah, I guess so.”

--CBS News’ Rebecca Kaplan

10:28 p.m. Clinton claims Trump is the only presidential candidate in the last four decades not to release his tax returns.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “He is the first candidate ever to run for president in the last 40-plus years who has not released his tax returns.”

FACT CHECK: True.

The last presidential candidate to not release his tax returns was Gerald Ford in 1976, according to the Tax History Project. Gerald Ford was the incumbent president at the time, but only took office after Richard Nixon resigned, and would go on to lose to Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter. Ford, like Trump, released a tax summary.

--CBS News’ Donald Judd 

10:26 p.m. Trump claims he never met the women who have accused him of sexual assault.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “Well, first of all, those stories have been largely debunked. Those people, I don’t know those people. I have a feeling how they came. I believe it was her campaign that did it. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, the woman, I think they want either fame or her campaign did it. And I think it’s her campaign.”

FACT CHECK: False.

Trump said in a statement that he knew one of his accusers, former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos: “I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years.”

There is no evidence to back up Trump’s claim that Clinton’s campaign was responsible for the women coming forward.

--CBS News’ Rebecca Kaplan 

10:24 p.m. Clinton says Trump bought Chinese steel for his Trump Hotel.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “Donald has bought Chinese steel and aluminum, in fact the Trump Hotel right here in Las Vegas was made with Chinese steel.”

FACT CHECK: True, according to a Newsweek investigation published earlier this month.

Newsweek wrote that of Trump’s last three construction projects, Trump Hotel in Las Vegas was the first one.

“That the manufacturer is from China is not immediately evident; this fact is hidden within a chain of various corporate entities, including holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands,” the Newsweek story said. “That micro-state is a popular site for obscure off-shore entities that exist only on legal documents, limiting the potential liability of real businesses while obscuring their true owners.”

According to Newsweek, Trump used “such layers upon layers of corporate shells and divisions” used by these companies to purchase steel from Chinese companies “without the ultimate supplier being readily apparent.”

--CBS News’ Jillian Hughes

10:19 p.m.  Trump pushes back against Clinton’s claim that he had said the women accusing him of unwanted sexual advances were not attractive enough to sexually assault.

TRUMP STATEMENT: When Clinton noted in the debate that Trump “said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough for them to be assaulted,” Trump interrupted his opponent to deny the charge. (“I did not say that,” he said.)

FACT CHECK: Partially true.

Trump never used the exact language that the women weren’t “attractive enough.” But in reference to the People Magazine reporter who accused him of forcing himself on her, Trump did once tell a rally crowd: “Look at her, I don’t think so.” And of Jessica Leeds, who accused him of groping her on an airplane decades ago, he said: “She would not be my first choice.”

--CBS News’ Carrie Rabin

10:15 p.m. Clinton claims Trump has encouraged espionage against the U.S.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “It’s pretty clear, you won’t admit that the Russian have engaged in cyber-attacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people.”

FACT CHECK: True that Trump won’t admit Russia engaged in cyberattacks, and true that he encouraged espionage (though he maybe didn’t mean it).

Following hacks on the DNC and on Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal email accounts, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint statement on Oct. 7 saying, “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.” 

At the Oct. 9 presidential debate, Trump refused to acknowledge that, telling moderator Martha Raddatz, “But I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians are -- she doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking.  Maybe there is no hacking.  But they always blame Russia.”

Trump did also invite hacking from the Russians, telling reporters gathered at a July 27 press conference in Doral, Florida, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.  I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.  Let’s see if that happens.” Trump did tell Fox News later, when pressed, in an interview, “Of course I’m being sarcastic.”

--CBS News’ Donald Judd

10:13 p.m. Clinton claims Trump was in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood over its abortion practices.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “Donald has said he’s in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. He even supported shutting the government down to defund Planned Parenthood.”

FACT CHECK: True. But he has also said it has “good aspects.”

In August 2015, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt brought up the possibility of a government shutdown to defund the women’s health care organization. “The word is that the Democrats will filibuster and the president will veto — that’s the only way to get rid of Planned Parenthood money for selling off baby parts is to shut the government down in September,” Hewitt asked. “Would you support that?

“Well I can tell you this,” Trump replied. “I would.”

A few days later on CNN, he changed his tune: “I would look at the good aspects of it and I would also look because I’m sure they do some things properly and good, good for women, and I would look at that,” Trump said.

But in October of 2015, Trump again said it should be defunded. In February of this year, Trump elaborated, saying he has “a lot of respect” for what Planned Parenthood does, but they should not receive taxpayer money.

--CBS News’ Donald Judd

10:11 p.m. Trump claims he has never met Russian President Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “I don’t know Putin. I have no idea. I never met Putin. This is not my best friend.”

FACT CHECK: Unclear.

It’s unclear if Trump ever met Putin. He said in 2014 that he spoke “indirectly and directly” with Putin when he went to Moscow in November 2013.

“As an example, I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success,” Trump said. “The show was live from Moscow and we had tremendous success there and it was amazing.”

According to Mother Jones, Putin was a no-show at that visit. As for whether Putin is Trump’s “best friend,” a tweet from June 2013 suggests Trump was interested in being friends: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?” he tweeted

--CBS News’ Maggie Dore  

10:02 p.m. Clinton says Trump has used undocumented labor to build Trump Tower in New York.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “He used undocumented labor to build the Trump Tower.”

FACT CHECK: True.

A contractor hired to demolish the site of what would become Trump Tower hired illegal workers from Poland. Trump later said he didn’t know the workers were undocumented.

--CBS News’ Carrie Rabin 

10:01 p.m. Trump says Clinton was “angry” about the Heller Supreme Court case.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “I mean, she was very, very angry when [Heller was] upheld.”

FACT CHECK: This depends on your interpretation of “angry.” She opposed the decision when it was handed down.

D.C. v. Heller was a 5-4 decision that held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for lawful purposes like self-defense in a citizen’s home.

In May of 2016, Hillary Clinton’s policy adviser Maya Harris 2008 told Bloomberg Politics in an email that “Clinton believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe, like safe storage laws to prevent toddlers from accessing guns.”

In July, Chris Wallace asked Clinton if she wanted to see Heller vs. Columbia overturned. Clinton responded, “No, I don’t, but here’s what I do want. And I want to be very clear about this: I want the Congress to step up and do its job. I want to get out of the horrible cycle we’re in, where we go and mourn dozens, hundreds, thousands of people killed by gun violence.”

Where does Clinton stand on the second amendment? Clinton has consistently said she believes in “common sense gun safety measures” that don’t overstep the Second Amendment. In June 2016, on ABC’s This Week, Hillary Clinton said, “I believe we can have common sense gun safety measures consistent with the Second Amendment, and, in fact, what I have proposed is supported by 90 percent of the American people and more than 75 percent of responsible gun owners. So that is exactly what I think is constitutionally permissible.”

--CBS News’ Nicole Sganga

9:58 p.m. Trump says Clinton was in favor of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “Hillary wanted the wall. Hillary Clinton fought for the wall in 2006 of thereabouts.”

FACT CHECK: Partially true.

Politifact points out that Clinton voted for a bill in the Senate that would have created fencing along the southern border -- but it did not authorize a wall of the size and scope that Trump has proposed. When asked for backup, Trump’s campaign pointed to a 2006 bill that Clinton voted for while a senator from New York. The bill -- the Secure Fence Act of 2006 -- authorized about 700 miles of fencing to be installed along the country’s southern border, along with other security measures. It was the beginning of an attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The original bill specifically called for double-layer fencing across 700 miles of the border. Clinton and 25 other Democratic senators voted in favor of the bill. It passed the Senate 80-19 and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. So, it’s fair to say she once supported a barrier along a large portion of the border.

Today, 702 miles of fencing separates the United States from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. But just 36 miles are double-layered. That’s because a 2007 amendment in the federal budget bill let the U.S. Department of Homeland Security determine what was necessary.

--CBS News’ Maggie Dore

9:56 p.m. Trump claims the sexual assault allegations against him have been proven false.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “Well, first of all, those stories have been largely debunked.  Those people -- I don’t know those people. I have a feeling how they came. I believe it was her campaign that did it.”

FACT CHECK: False. 

There is no evidence that the women alleging sexual assault were lying, though the Trump campaign has tried to refute the allegations. Trump has even threatened to sue the news outlets that have reported these accounts, but the campaign has yet to follow through with any actual law suits. 

9:54 p.m. Defending his positions on less restrictive gun laws, Trump said Chicago, despite having some of the toughest gun laws in the U.S., still has “tremendous” rates of gun violence.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “In Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States probably you could say by far -- they have more gun violence that any other city. So we have the toughest laws, and you have tremendous gun violence.”

FACT CHECK: Partially true.

Chicago’s gun laws certainly are among the toughest, but Chicago doesn’t have the highest rate of violent crime.

While Chicago’s laws are among the toughest in the nation, a New York Times analysis of Chicago Police Department data found that a majority of the guns recovered by police in Chicago were purchased outside the city’s limits. A preliminary look at 2015 data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Database ranked Chicago as second in violent crime, only behind New York, but when you factor in population size, Chicago’s crime rate puts it at 50th nationally. The data does not specifically track gun violence.

--CBS News’ Donald Judd

9:51 p.m. Donald Trump claims that Clinton supports allowing abortions in the ninth month of pregnancy.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “Well I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying. In the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother -- just prior to the birth of the baby. Now you can say that that’s okay. And Hillary can say that’s okay. But it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she is saying, and based on where she is going and where she has been. You can take the baby and rip the baby out of womb, in the ninth month, on the final day. And that’s acceptable.

FACT CHECK: False.

Clinton has said many times -- including just before Trump’s statement -- that she supports restrictions on abortions in the third trimester as long as there are exceptions for the life and health of the mother. For example, at a Oct. 8, 2000 New York Senate debate she said: “I have said many times that I can support a ban on late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions, so long as the health and life of the mother is protected.”

Additionally, it is an extremely uncommon procedure: Just 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks of pregnancy, according to the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute. Forty-three separate states have put some sort of restriction on abortions based on the length of time the woman has been pregnant. The procedure is so risky that the American Medical Association “recommends that abortions not be performed in the third trimester except in cases of serious fetal anomalies incompatible with life.”

--CBS News’ Rebecca Kaplan

9:42 p.m. Clinton says Trump said he wanted to deport every undocumented person in the U.S.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “He said as recently as a few weeks ago in Phoenix that every undocumented person would be subject to deportation.”

FACT CHECK: True.

In his immigration speech in Phoenix on August 31, Trump said: “Unlike this administration, no one will be immune from enforcement, and ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) will be allowed to do their jobs the way their jobs are supposed to be done. Anyone who entered the U.S. illegally, will be subject to deportation.”

--CBS News’ Maggie Dore

9:40 p.m.  Trump says the Supreme Court would “automatically” overturn the landmark abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade.

TRUMP STATEMENT: When asked whether Trump would want to see the Supreme Court overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, Trump responded: “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be happen. That’s what will happen and that will happen automatically in my opinion because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.”

FACT CHECK: False.

Overturning any Supreme Court decision would not happen “automatically.” A court case challenging all or part of the law would have to work its way through the lower courts and the Supreme Court justices would have to agree to hear the case.  A majority of the justices would then have to agree to overturn it.

--CBS News’ Carrie Rabin  

9:38 p.m. Clinton says the NRA has spent millions of dollars on ads against her.

CLINTON STATEMENT: “Look, I understand that Donald’s been strongly supported by the NRA, the gun lobby’s on his side, they’re running millions of dollars of ads against me.”

FACT CHECK: True.

The National Rifle Association launched a new ad in early August in battleground states Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, according to an NRA spokesperson, who said the ad buy was about $3 million.

The money came from the NRA Political Victory Fund, which also ran an ad underlining Hillary Clinton’s stance on gun control. In July, the NRA ran its first ad against Hillary Clinton, a $2 million ad campaign slamming Hillary Clinton hard over the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya narrated by Mark Geist, who survived the attack.

--CBS News’ Nicole Sganga

9:35 p.m. Trump claims heroin is “pouring” in across the southern border.

TRUMP STATEMENT: “I was up in New Hampshire the other day, the biggest complaint they have, with all of the problems going on in the world, many of the problems caused by Hillary Clinton and by Barack Obama, all of the problems, their single biggest problem is heroin that pours across our southern borders, just pouring and destroying their youth. It’s poisoning the blood of their youth and plenty of other people.”

FACT CHECK: True.

It is true that there has been an increase in heroin flowing across the southern border. According to the Congressional Research Service, Mexican transnational criminal organizations have increased their share of the U.S. drug market, particularly with respect to heroin, and heroin seizures in the Southwest border region more than doubled from 2010 to 2015.

--CBS News’ Rebecca Kaplan

9:21 p.m. The debate is well underway, and Clinton and Trump are sparring over issues from the Supreme Court to gun control. The CBS News team has compiled each candidate’s views on major issues here:

9:02 p.m. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump will be walking out on stage momentarily in Las Vegas.

As things get underway, check out CBS News’ fact-checking live blogs from the past three debates: one from the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in September, from the vice-presidential debate at Longwood University and from last week’s second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

8:15 p.m. The third presidential debate is less than an hour away: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will take the stage at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday night. 

The debate is being moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace. He’ll ask the candidates questions on six topics, each a segment lasting 15 minutes: debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and the candidates’ fitness to be president.

CBS News’ team of fact-checkers are listening closely to both candidates and will be posting here when their statements need additional scrutiny.

Check back here for updates throughout the debate.

 

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.