Facts Matter: Russian president wanted Trump to win election

By Bob Oswald

President Donald Trump recently said Russia would have preferred Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election.

That's not what Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, according to The Associated Press.

"(Russia) would have been a lot better off with Hillary Clinton as president," Trump said during a March 27 interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. "You look at all of the different things, Russia would much rather have Hillary than Donald Trump. I can tell you that right now."

However, Putin, appearing with Trump at a news conference in July, replied, "Yes I did," was asked if he had wanted Trump to win the 2016 election, AP said. Putin explained he preferred Trump "because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.

Trump is not 'raiding' military pensions

Presidential hopeful and Democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris' claim that Trump is planning to use funds set for military pensions to pay for a border wall is off base, according to

"Members of our military have already given so much," Harris posted on Twitter and Facebook on March 8. "Raiding money from their pensions to fund the president's wasteful vanity project is outrageous."

Trump declared a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border in February, allowing the president to fund the wall by transferring $3.6 billion from military construction projects, $2.5 billion from drug interdiction programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund, PolitiFact said.

Congress voted to block the declaration but Trump vetoed the joint resolution, according to PolitiFact. Illinois is among 16 states that filed a federal lawsuit to question the president's authority to divert funds for the border wall.

Harris' social media posts included a link to an Associated Press article headlined, "Pentagon may tap military pay, pensions for border wall"

The money in question is described as "leftover funds."

The funds are available because the Army was 6,500 enlistees short of a recruitment goal and fewer soldiers opted to take financial incentives for voluntary, early retirement, according to AP. The Pentagon plans to transfer that money into the drug interdiction account to be redirected for border security and other projects.

Harris' claim is "off-base," Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told PolitiFact.

"The fact that they're moving money out of these accounts is not an indication that anyone is cutting military pay or cutting benefits or pension payments. No military service member's pension would be reduced," he said.

Beto's math is fuzzy

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke kicked off his 2020 campaign with a rally in El Paso, Texas, last week, claiming the country has been at war in Iraq for 27 years, according to The Associated Press.

"We will ensure that this country does not start yet another war before every peaceful, diplomatic, nonviolent alternative is explored and pursued, and those wars that we ask our fellow Americans, these service members, to fight on our behalf, 17 years and counting in Afghanistan, 27 years and counting in Iraq, let's bring these wars to a close," the Texas politician said.

But the military conflict in Iraq began 16 years ago, AP said. O'Rourke's claim would have the conflict starting in 1992.

Operation Desert Storm, President George H.W. Bush's response to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, began Aug. 2, 1990. Bush declared a cease fire in February 1991, AP said. There was no ongoing military conflict in Iraq after that.

In 2003, President George W. Bush authorized the invasion of Iraq that toppled Hussein's government. The younger Bush described that continuing conflict, later dubbed the Iraq War, as a U.S. war against terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, AP said.

Amazon blimp isn't real

A video making the rounds on social media showing an Amazon blimp releasing dozens of delivery drones is actually a computer-generated clip created by a digital artist, according to

The footage of the blimp, emblazoned with an Amazon logo, flying over rooftops as drones spill out of the airship was captioned on Facebook, "The future of delivery is here."

The artist, @zozi009 said on Twitter in Japanese that the Lockheed Martin P-791, an experimental hybrid airship, was the inspiration for her design of the Amazon blimp, Snopes said. She frequently publishes digitally created videos on Twitter.

Although the video is a digital creation, Amazon has been working on developing delivery drones, Snopes said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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