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Fake News: Donald Trump Did NOT Say "My Crimes Can't Be Investigated While I'm the President"

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sun, 22 Sep 2019 18:38:03 Z)

Did President Donald Trump say "my crimes" can't be investigated while he is still President? No, that's not true: a tweet erroneously interpreted a Vanity Fair headline that was paraphrasing an argument from Trump's lawyers as a direct quote from Trump himself. Trump never used the phrase "my crimes".

The tweet published by Twitter user @stonecold2050 on September 20, 2019 (archived here) and it read:

"Trump says "my crimes can't be investigated while I'm the president of the United States" "My Crimes" What did he just say? #ImpeachTrump https://t.co/c3iQ86DThG"

Screenshot of https://twitter.com/stonecold2050/status/1174870930859806722

This is the original tweet:

The Vanity Fair article (archived here) it linked to did have a title that included the "my crimes" wording but it lacked quotation marks, indicating Vanity Fair did not mean it to be a direct quotation of words spoken by the President:

Trump: My Crimes Can't Be Investigated While I'm President

As you may or may not have heard, Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns while running for president, claiming, falsely, that an audit prevented him from doing so but that the public would see them just as soon as he got the green light.

The Vanity Fair article did not contain any direct quotes from Trump himself at all, it merely repeated some quotes by Trump's lawyers from an earlier Bloomberg article:

Trump Sues Manhattan DA Cy Vance in Tax-Return Fight - Bloomberg

Donald Trump sued Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. after the prosecutor demanded eight years of the president's tax returns in a probe of whether the Trump Organization falsified business records. In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, Trump said the subpoena issued to his accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking his tax returns is unconstitutional and asked a judge to declare it invalid.

That story has Trump and Trump's lawyers making following claims:

In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, Trump said the subpoena issued to his accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking his tax returns is unconstitutional and asked a judge to declare it invalid. Trump said the subpoena should be blocked until he has left office, because sitting presidents aren't subjected to the criminal process.

"The framers of our Constitution understood that state and local prosecutors would be tempted to criminally investigate the president to advance their own careers and to advance their political agendas," Trump's lawyers said in the lawsuit. "And they likewise understood that having to defend against these actions would distract the president from his constitutional duties."

Note that the story does not have any direct quotes from Trump and the words "crime", "crimes" or "my crimes" are not mentioned. So it is pretty clear the Vanity Fair headline was just paraphrasing how the author thought this lawsuit should be understood and that the headline was not a direct quote.

Anyone seeking to find some kind of admission of guilt on Trump's end in the phrase "my crimes" should be aware that Trump never actually uttered those words.

About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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