Fact check: The White House’s claims about Trump’s first 100 days

As we approach the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, the White House is attempting to thread a needle. The president himself called it a “ridiculous standard” — an opinion shared by some historians — but his administration also wants to show that it’s proud of what it has accomplished thus far.

The rollout of documentation for accolades has been a little rocky.

A statement from the White House distributed Tuesday said that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had only signed nine executive orders in his first 100 days in office. As history professor Peter A. Shulman pointed out on Twitter, the actual number is 99. The White House appears to have pulled the number from the American Presidency Project, which lists just some of Roosevelt’s major signings. When the mistake was pointed out to the administration, the White House said Trump still had signed the most executive orders since Roosevelt.

There was also an error in the number of executive orders credited to Harry S. Truman. Truman signed 57 executive orders in the 100 days following Roosevelt’s death in 1945, but only 25 — the number used by the White House — at the beginning of his term following the 1948 election.

The heavy reliance on executive orders instead of signing congressional legislation goes against a critique made by Trump the candidate.

“The country wasn’t based on executive orders,” Trump said at a town hall in South Carolina in February 2016. “Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can’t even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It’s a basic disaster. You can’t do it.”

“We don’t want to continue to watch people signing executive orders because that was not what the Constitution and the brilliant designers of this incredible document had in mind,” added Trump at a Republican primary debate the following month.

President Trump shows off a signed executive order. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
President Trump shows off a signed executive order. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The White House has created a special website to commemorate the 100-day mark. It lists 18 different achievements, which include launching a commission on opioid addiction and initiating a process for government reorganization. A few other items of note from the website, in bold:

President Trump is keeping his promise to hold sanctuary cities accountable — Pointing readers to one of his first executive orders, signed Jan. 25, this pronouncement hit a snag Tuesday when a federal judge issued an injunction against the proposed withholding of federal funds from communities that limit their cooperation with U.S. immigrant authorities. Trump lashed out, blaming the wrong court for the decision and vowing to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Advocated increasing the national security budget by $54 billion — This entry links to the White House’s America First blueprint, a budget proposal with suggestions to Congress. While it’s correct that the White House advocated this, it didn’t actually result in any increased spending. This aligns with one of the other items on the list, “President Trump is boosting U.S. military strength and empowering our military to fight,” which links to remarks he made in early March about the U.S.S. Gerald Ford — remarks that haven’t yet resulted in any tangible changes.

Saved taxpayers over $700 million with the F-35 renegotiation — Linking to a recap of Trump’s first month in office, this claim is mostly specious. Though the cost-saving deal was announced on Feb. 3, it had been in the works for years. According to the Washington Post:

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, who heads the F-35 Joint Program Office at the Department of Defense, told reporters on Dec. 20 — before the president’s private meetings with defense companies — that the F-35’s cost per plane should fall “somewhere on the order of 6 to 7 percent per airplane” for the next batch of planes.

That would translate to a cost reduction of between $6.1 million and $7.1 million per plane for the most common F-35 model — somewhere between $549 million and $630 million for the full lot of 90 planes. The Air Force’s budget already reflects cost reductions of about $10 million per plane between 2016 and 2017.

Five-year lobbying ban and lifetime foreign lobbying ban — This is a Jan. 28 executive order that strengthens some of former President Barack Obama’s ethics rules while weakening others.

Over 500,000 new jobs — with a surge in female employment in the last month — This points to a March 31 White House release that doesn’t mention the 500,000 number, which Trump mentioned at a speech in mid-March. Originally the White House claimed credit for jobs added in January, which should have been credited to the Obama administration. (The Bureau for Labor Statistics pulls data on the 12th of each month, and Trump was inaugurated on the 20th.) The United States economy added 219,000 nonfarm jobs in February and 98,000 in March, meaning that a big April number could potentially push the overall gain to half a million. But the April figure won’t be known until it’s released the morning of May 5.

Read more from Yahoo News’ coverage of Trump’s first 100 days: