FactCheck: Nikki Haley’s CNN Town Hall

This article was originally published here

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley — a former governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during former President Donald Trump’s administration — made a few false and misleading statements in a June 4 town hall on CNN:

  • Haley falsely said that crime as at “all-time highs.” The U.S. violent crime rate, and homicide rate specifically, peaked in 1991.
  • She said “all those medicines” at “your local drugstore” are made in China, but only a portion of foreign-made pharmaceutical ingredients are from China.
  • Haley wrongly said that Roe v. Wade allowed “abortion anytime, anywhere, for any reason.” The court ruling said states could prohibit abortion after fetal viability, with exceptions only for the life and health of the mother.
  • When discussing climate change, Haley said the U.S. is “very good when it comes to emissions” and China and India “are causing the problem.” But the U.S. emits more carbon dioxide than India and emits more CO2 per capita than both countries.
  • She repeated the misleading GOP talking point that the IRS is “going after” middle-class taxpayers. Enforcement efforts to collect unpaid taxes will focus on those earning more than $400,000, the Biden administration has said.

The town hall was held in Des Moines, Iowa.

Crime Isn’t at ‘All-Time Highs’

The U.S. violent crime rate hit its peak in the early 1990s. But in talking about maintaining gun rights for people to bear arms and “protect and defend their families,” Haley falsely said that “you’ve got crime at all-time highs.”

According to FBI data, the nationwide violent crime rate was at its highest in 1991 with 758.2 crimes per 100,000 people. In 2020, the rate was 398.5, and the FBI said that “violent and property crime remained consistent between 2020 and 2021,” the most recent year for which annual national figures are available.

The nationwide homicide rate also peaked in 1991, at 9.8 per 100,000 population. By 2019, it was down to 5.1. During the pandemic, there was an increase in murders, but nothing that approached the 1991 all-time high. And crime data indicate the number of murders in large cities has dropped since 2021.

The nationwide murder rate went up from 2019 to 2020, to 6.5 per 100,000 people, and the FBI said the number (not the rate) went up slightly in 2021, but not by a statistically significant amount. We don’t yet have 2022 figures from the FBI. But the Major Cities Chiefs Association found that the number of murders in 70 large U.S. cities declined from 2021 to 2022.

AH Datalytics, an independent group that collects publicly available information from large U.S. law enforcement agencies, has found a 12 percent decrease in murders so far this year, compared with the same time period in 2022. Most of the agencies had statistics through late April or late May as of June 5.

Not ‘All’ Medicines Made in China

Haley said “all those medicines” at “your local drugstore” are made in China, but that’s not right. According to the Food and Drug Administration, nearly three-quarters of pharmaceutical ingredients are foreign-made, but China only represents a portion of that.

“What I do care about is if it’s a national security risk,” Haley said. “When you saw we had COVID, they told you to put on a mask. The masks were made in China. They told you to take a home COVID test. You turned it over, it was made in China. You go down to your local drugstore, all those medicines are made in China.”

It’s unclear from her lead-in whether Haley was talking about all drugs in general, or just COVID-19 drugs, when she said they were “all” made in China. But it’s not accurate for either.

fact sheet from Pfizer, which makes the antiviral pill Paxlovid, says that the primary manufacturing sites for the drug are in Germany, Ireland and Italy.

An intravenous antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19, remdesivir, is manufactured in sites all over the world, including in China. Gilead Sciences, which invented remdesivir, lists a manufacturing network that includes two countries in Asia (China and Japan), eight in Europe, and two in North America (Mexico and the U.S.). The manufacturing process also requires obtaining chemicals “from around the world – including France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Canada, the United States, China and Japan.”

“No one country or region can manufacture remdesivir on its own and meet the level of supply required,” a Gilead press release states. “The raw materials and substances required, and the production capabilities and capacity required, represent a diverse network of companies that are working together to meet the needs of patients around the world. Any disruption in this supply chain could ultimately reduce the amount of remdesivir that could be produced and increase the time it takes to do so.”

If Haley was talking more generally about all pharmaceutical drugs, the FDA in 2019 said 72 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs, supplying the U.S. market are foreign made. The FDA said 13 percent of APIs are made in China, though it noted that “the number of registered facilities making APIs in China more than doubled between 2010 and 2019.”

Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, testified in October 2019 that “although CDER can describe the locations of API manufacturing facilities, we cannot determine with any precision the volume of API that China is actually producing, or the volume of APIs manufactured in China that is entering the U.S. market, either directly or indirectly by incorporation into finished dosages manufactured in China or other parts of the world.”

The FDA says it “inspects pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities worldwide, including facilities that manufacture active ingredients and the finished product.”


The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion, but said that the government could restrict abortions after fetal viability, provided there was an exception for cases involving risks to the life and health of the mother. Haley, however, wrongly said Roe “suddenly said abortion anytime, anywhere, for any reason,” adding that “all Americans had to succumb to that.”

The court ruling said states couldn’t restrict the right to an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy; in the second trimester, states could restrict abortion “in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.” And after a fetus is viable outside the womb, states could restrict or prohibit abortion with only exceptions for the life and health of the mother. Roe put viability at 24 to 28 weeks of gestation, but a subsequent ruling said viability is determined by the physician.

In a companion case decided with Roe, the court clarified that health referred to both physical and mental health. As we’ve written, some Republicans have objected to the inclusion of “mental” health, seeing it as a loophole. But it’s simply not true that Roe allowed any abortion at “any time” across the country.

Before the Supreme Court overturned Roe last year, nearly all states had restrictions on abortion — some challenging the Roe framework but others abiding by the viability threshold, according to a breakdown of the various state laws by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group that supports abortion rights.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

For years, the U.S. has been the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. But Haley claimed that China and India are “the problem” when it comes to improving the environment – not the U.S.

“The United States is very good when it comes to emissions,” Haley said. “If we want to really fix the environment, then let’s start having serious conversations with India and China. They are our polluters. They’re the ones that are causing the problem.”

In 2021, China, by a wide margin, ranked first in metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted, according to the European Commission’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research. Trailing China were the U.S., the European Union and India, in that order.

We should note that, generally, U.S. emissions have been declining while the emissions of the rest of the top four have been increasing.

Country Total Metric Tons of CO2 Percentage of Global Total
China 12,466.32 32.93%
U.S. 4,752.08 12.55%
European Union 2,774.93 7.33%
India 2,648.78 7.00%

In terms of emissions per capita, however, the U.S. ranked higher than China and India. The U.S. emitted an average of 14.24 tons per person, and China’s and India’s averages were 8.73 and 1.90 tons per person, respectively.

China and India have populations of about 1.4 billion, while the U.S. population is approaching 335 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.


When discussing the need to “go back to being fiscally responsible,” Haley repeated a GOP talking point that the IRS under President Joe Biden is “going after” middle-class taxpayers.

Haley: Instead of the 87,000 IRS workers going after middle America, let’s go after the hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID fraud that we know exist.

Haley is referring to the Inflation Reduction Act, which became law in August and included $79.6 billion for the IRS over 10 years to improve technology, customer service and enforcement efforts to collect unpaid taxes. A Treasury Department spokesperson has told us that the IRS would use the funding to “fill positions of the 50,000 IRS employees who are on the verge of retirement” and increase its staffing by about 30,000.

But, as we have written, the Biden administration has said the stepped-up enforcement program will focus on taxpayers earning more than $400,000.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen directed IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig on Aug. 10 not to use the new funding “to increase the share of small business or households below the $400,000 threshold that are audited relative to historical levels.”

In an Aug. 25 letter to the ranking Republicans on the House Budget Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the increased IRS funding for enforcement would raise an additional $180.4 billion over 10 years. But only “a small fraction” of that would come from taxpayers earning less than $400,000, “because, CBO expects, the IRS will follow the Secretary’s directive, and enforcement resources will focus on what the Secretary terms high-end noncompliance,” the letter stated.

It is also worth noting that the debt limit legislation signed into law by Biden on June 3 would cancel $1.4 billion of that new IRS funding. “CBO anticipates that rescinding those funds would result in fewer enforcement actions” and $2.3 billion in less revenues over the next decade, CBO said.

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