News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Former Defense Secretary Mattis slams Trump l ABC News

Claim: Trump fired Jim Mattis, gave him ‘Mad Dog’ nickname. Fact check: False

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday the only thing he and former President Barack Obama have in common is "that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis." The tweet came after Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, criticized Trump's response to the protests being carried out across the nation since the police killing of George Floyd, an African-American man in Minneapolis, Minn.

Trump didn't fire the general. Mattis served as his secretary of Defense from 2017, when he was confirmed by the Senate, until he tendered his resignation in December 2018 as he disagreed with Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, according to U.S. officials. In the letter, he said his views and beliefs in foreign policy and strategy didn't align with those of the president.

Trump has claimed several times in the past he gave Mattis his "Mad Dog" nickname, which Mattis has openly said he dislikes. Yet, news reports have referred to him by the nickname as far back as 2004. During his Senate confirmation hearing for defense secretary, he said: "That nickname was given to me by the press, and some of you may have experienced similar occasions with the press where perhaps they didn't get it quite right." Other nicknames include "Chaos" and "Warrior Monk."

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Claim: Sen. Kelly Loeffler was exonerated of insider trading. Fact check: False

For somebody to be exonerated, there needs to be an investigation where the individual is properly charged of the claims being investigated. The Justice Department is closing its investigations into Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California for stocks trades made shortly before the coronavirus-caused market decline. The Washington Post first reported Tuesday prosecutors had alerted the senators' defense attorneys the investigation was coming to a close. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, continues to be investigated for his "more direct" involvement in trading stock following several closed briefings that evaluated the severity of the pandemic since its outbreak in China.

The probe, which the FBI started two months ago, was just an investigation into claims that the senators had used private information to sell hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock. The Department of Justice never charged the senators for insider trading, which means an exoneration isn't possible. Hence, Loeffler's claim she was exonerated is false.

All four senators have widely denied their impropriety in the trading. In a recent tweet, Loeffler said the investigation was a "politically motivated attack" and the "clear exoneration affirms what I've said all along: I did nothing wrong."

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Benson responds after Trump threatens funding

Claim: Michigan illegally sent absentee ballots to voters. Fact check: False

Michigan did not send ballots to registered voters like President Trump said. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who has encouraged all voters to vote by mail for all elections held this year, announced Tuesday all 7.7 million registered voters would receive applications to vote by mail in the August primary and November general elections.

Responding to the president, Benson noted that her office was sending applications, not ballots, "just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia." The applications sent out, Benson said, ensure "that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote."

In a similar tweet, Trump also accused the state of Nevada's election officials of sending mail-in ballots to voters. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, announced registered voters would start receiving mailed absentee ballots to vote for the primary, held predominantly by mail.