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5 fast fact checks from the second presidential debate

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The second debate of the general election was, in a single word, tense. In the past 48 hours, a 2005 video exposed Donald Trump as having made comments about women the Washington Post deemed “lewd”; WikiLeaks released emails that contain excerpts of Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches Hillary Clinton; and Trump held a pre-debate press conference with three women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault.

During the debate itself, Clinton and Trump circled each other tensely while fielding questions from St. Louis audience members (all undecided voters) and social media. Questions ranged from tax plans to international terrorist threats. Here are the five biggest fact-checking moments:

1. Trump: Health care costs are rising.

This is true.

While Trump did not specify which aspects of health care are experiencing increasing costs — deductibles, premiums, etc. — an NPR fact check reported that “premiums for families rose an average 3 percent last year,” while the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that from 2005-2016, the average deductible “rose from $303 to $1,077.” In other words, the amount people were expected to pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses increased substantially.

(To see how and why health care costs are rising in Ohio, click here.)

2. Trump: Hillary Clinton defended the rapist of a 12-year-old girl and laughed about it.

This is partially true.

In 1975, Clinton was assigned the case of Thomas Taylor, a 41-year-old accused of raping then 12-year-old Kathleen Shelton. (Shelton was not named at the time of the trial, but has since come forward. She was one of the women who appeared in Trump’s pre-debate press conference.)

Clinton is documented as being reluctant to take the case, but said in a 2014 interview that she had a “professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did.”

The laughter in question described audio of an interview Clinton completed in the 1980s regarding the trial:

“‘I had him (the defendant) take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,’ she added with a laugh.”

It is not clear whether Clinton was laughing about the trial or the polygraph.

3. Clinton: “What Trump says about Muslims is being used to recruit fighters (for terrorist groups).”

This is true…now.

This is not the first time Clinton has asserted that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is used by terrorist groups for recruiting. The first time she said this was in December 2015 at a primary debate. At the time, Politifact rated the statement as “false” for lack of evidence.

However, in January 2016 CNN reported Trump’s comments were featured in a propaganda video for al-Shabaab, an African affiliate of al Qaeda. The video aired after Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

4. Clinton: Intelligence Community said the Russian government is engineering the email hacks in an attempt to influence the election.

This is partially false.

On Oct. 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security issued a joint statement:

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.”

Clinton is correct that that USIC believes Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration are behind the hacks, but there is no way of determining if the allegations are true, or what the motives behind the hacking might be.

For its part, WikiLeaks has denied the accusations.

5. Trump and Clinton’s he said, she said: The other candidate will raise your taxes.

Both statements are true AND false…depending on your income.

The simple answer is that both candidates’ plans will increase taxes for somebody. According to the Tax Policy Center, a think tank that has been described by media as center-left, Clinton’s plan raises taxes for Americans making over $300,000 a year, while “the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see little or no change in their taxes.” Clinton’s plan does not propose changing the corporate tax rate.

The Tax Policy Center reported that while Trump’s plan would cut taxes “at every income level,” those with higher incomes benefit most.

“…the highest-income 0.1 percent of taxpayers (those with incomes over $3.7 million in 2015 dollars) would experience an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million in 2017, nearly 19 percent of after-tax income. Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $2,700, or 4.9 percent of after-tax income.”

The next presidential debate will be held on Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

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