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Fact Check

The Medill Fact Check

The Fulcrum has partnered with the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications to co-publish students' fact-checks on public statements about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on civic engagement. The Fulcrum will also publish related stories, podcasts and videos in partnership with the journalism school, a part of Northwestern University.

The Covid-19 Analyzer includes an interactive database that allows users to research stories, public statements and social media reports for accuracy, listing them as true, mixed or false, accompanied by an explanation and links to further information.

The 13-member Politics, Policy and Foreign Affairs Reporting Project team is also producing an updated national scorecard on voting practices called the 2020 Election Tracker, with an interactive map of the 50 states' regulations for in-person and mail-in balloting, as well as candidate filing and voting deadlines.

Balance of Power
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Claim: President Trump can cut off funding for schools. Fact check: Mixed

President Trump cannot unilaterally cut federal funding for schools, as highlighted by House Democrats on June 8.

"Congress provides federal education funding to support some of the most vulnerable young people in our country," said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee. "The president has no authority to cut off funding for these students, and threatening to do so to prop up his flailing campaign is offensive."

However, Trump could restrict some pandemic relief funding and decline to sign or veto future legislation for federal grants and bailouts for schools.

Trump and his administration have previously proposed cutting federal grants for schools as well as reducing the Education Department's budget, but Congress, which has oversight power when it comes to federal grants, has continued to reject these proposals.

"As with all legislation generally, Congress oversees the grant's implementation to ensure that the federal administrating agency is held accountable," as stated in a 2019 report from the Congressional Research Service on federal grants.

Balance of Power
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Members of the Minnesota National Guard surround the statet Capitol on May 31.

Claim: President deployed National Guard to Minn. over objections of state leaders. Fact check: False

"Minnesota's Democrat governor [Tim Walz] failed to urgently deploy the National Guard — it took President Trump for that to eventually happen; his suggestion — and the ultimate descendance into chaos there in Minneapolis." — White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, June 29

President Trump and his team repeated multiple times that he was responsible for deploying the National Guard to deal with rioting in Minnesota. The first time Trump took credit for the deployment was during an interview with Nexstar on June 17.

"I brought it out five days after they started. They wouldn't use the National Guard. I brought the National Guard to — I told them, I said, 'You got to get the National Guard.' We got them in," he told Nexstar. "Everything stopped in Minneapolis. It was really an amazing thing, actually, to see, and they had no problems after we called out the Guard."

Two days later, Trump tweeted: "Forced Democrat run Minnesota to bring in the National Guard & end rioting & looting after seeing the destruction & crime in Minneapolis."

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany made a similar claim during her official briefing on June 29.

But it was actually Minnesota's Democratic governor, Tim Walz, and not Trump, who deployed the Minnesota National Guard. Walz, who served in the Army National Guard for 24 years, first activated the Guard on May 28, more than seven hours before Trump publicly threatened to do it himself. According to his office, he was not acting under the president's advice, but rather under requests from officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul — cities also run by Democrats. Furthermore, the Guard was deployed two days after the riots had started, rather than the five claimed by Trump.

The May municipal elections in Paterson, N.J., have been plagued with allegations of election fraud.

Claim: New Jersey election officials threw out nearly 20 percent of mail-in ballots. Fact check: True

A tweet on June 28 by President Trump cited voter fraud in a New Jersey election in order to bolster his argument against mail-in voting. Trump claimed that nearly 20 percent of ballots in a special election for city council representatives were fraudulent.

The municipal election was held in May in Paterson, N.J., for several city council seats. It was among a handful of elections that Gov. Phil Murphy ordered be completed exclusively by mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. To make the process easier, Murphy signed an executive order in March for ballots to be sent to all registered voters without the need for an application.

But claims of fraud began appearing in local media as early as election day.

According to a report by NPR, the fraud investigation began after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service informed local law enforcement that hundreds of mail-in ballots were stuffed inside a Paterson mailbox.

More than 1,200 ballets were initially tossed due to issues with voter signatures and another 1,000 were dumped because the person who dropped off the ballots did not correctly fill out the envelope to indicate they were the "bearer" of the ballots. New Jersey law allows a "bearer" to collect and deliver up to three ballots per election; however, this right does not extend to candidates.

Three months after the election, four men were charged by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal with illegally collecting or possessing ballots, including two winning city council candidates. The nonprofit Paterson Press found that votes had been cast in the names of three deceased individuals. And another resident listed as having voted said she did not receive a vote-by-mail ballot, according to NBC New York.

In total, election officials admitted that more than 3,000 mail-in ballots, about 19 percent of those submitted, were disqualified.