Donald Trump, after just one month in office, held his first rally of the 2020 presidential campaign Saturday in Melbourne, Florida. But among several questionable statements made by Trump at the event, his apparent claim that there was some sort of incident, presumably a terrorist attack, in Sweden “last night,” was perhaps the most perplexing and left numerous observers scratching their heads.
Again! I don’t know what Donald Trump is talking about, but according to the three main news papers nothing has happened,apart from Melfest. https://t.co/XWzHPSSYaR
— @sweden / Emma (@sweden) February 19, 2017
@sweden the real crime here in Sweden is being committed on a daily basis. Swedes eating pizza with a fork. Pizza massacre, sad!
— Kitty Stardust (@ElliottBord) February 19, 2017
Some internet commenters compared Trump’s reference to Sweden “last night” to his adviser Kellyanne Conway’s earlier reference to the “Bowling Green Massacre,” a non-existent terror attack which Conway apparently made up.
We survivors of the Bowling Green Massacre stand in solidarity with the tragic victims of The Sweden Incident. Oh, the horror. The horror.
— Comcha Terra (@ComchaTerra) February 19, 2017
At the rally, Trump was delivering a speech in support of his ban on immigrants from Muslim-dominated countries entering the United States. His mention of Sweden came in the context of what he said were the dangers posed by immigrants in European countries.
“When you look at what’s happening in Germany, when you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden!” Trump declared. “Who would believe this? Sweden! They took in large numbers, they’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
Here’s a video of Trump making his “Sweden” statement.
Just to reiterate: There was NO terror incident in Sweden last night.
But Fox talked about Sweden last night. pic.twitter.com/XtcC4PRiNU
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) February 19, 2017
But there was no incident in Sweden “last night,” meaning Friday night, February 17. Searches of news media turned up no reference to any sort of violent incident that could be attributed to terrorists or blamed on immigrants in Sweden.
So what was Trump talking about? Past statements by Trump have appeared to refer to whatever he had viewed recently on cable TV news, particularly on the Fox News Channel. Some commentators believe that his bizarre reference to a non-existent incident in Sweden may have been the result of Friday night’s airing on Fox News of a segment on the Tucker Carlson program.
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On the program, Carlson interviewed an “expert” who claimed that Sweden is “covering up” a surge in violent crime by recent immigrants to the country. Even that segment, however, made no mention of a specific incident occurring on Friday night.
Trump made a number of other false statements at the Saturday rally, according to fact checking by the New York Times and Politifact.
Trump claimed that refugees immigrating to the United States go through no screening procedures, saying, “There was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation, there was no nothing.”
In fact, refugees must endure an arduous screening and vetting process that generally takes two years before they are permitted entry into the U.S.
At the rally, Trump also reiterated his claim that the seven countries covered by his executive order banning immigration applied to “countries picked by Obama.” But according to a Politifact analysis, Trump is twisting the truth. Obama’s legislation simply required that visitors who had lived in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria since 2011 must possess a valid visa. Previously, they could enter the country on a 90-day “visa waiver” program.
[Featured Image By Joe Raedle/Getty Images]