Fact check: No evidence Trump said anyone under FBI investigation is not qualified to be president

The claim: In 2016, Trump said, “Anyone being investigated by the FBI is not qualified to be the President of the United States” on six different dates

As former President Donald Trump faces an escalation of the Justice Department probe into his handling of classified White House documents, some on social media say statements about his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton’s legal troubles have come back to haunt him.

“Trump said ‘Anyone being investigated by the FBI is not qualified to be the President of the United States’ on 8/3/16, 9/7/16, 10/15/16, 10/20/16, 10/21/16 and 10/30/16,'” reads text in a Facebook post from popular left-leaning page Occupy Democrats. 

Posted soon after the FBI searched Trump’s Palm Beach home on Aug. 8, the post was shared more than 13,000 times within 12 hours. Similar claims are circulating in viral posts elsewhere. 

In 2018, another iteration of the claim also appeared while Trump was under investigation for alleged collusion with the Kremlin, including in a viral Occupy Democrats post that shared the same quote with a few additional dates. (The investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller did not find collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.) 

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Trump leaned heavily on criticism of Clinton during his 2016 run, mentioning dozens of times that the FBI was investigating her handling of classified emails while she was secretary of state. But there’s no evidence that Trump made the claimed statement or a similar one on any of the dates listed in the post, according to USA TODAY’s review of records and transcripts from campaign rallies, tweets and media appearances on Aug. 3, Sept. 7, Oct. 15, Oct. 20, Oct. 21 and Oct. 30 of 2016.  

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USA TODAY reached out to Occupy Democrats and another social media user who shared the claim for comment.

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, one wearing a mask of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, wait for his arrival to a campaign rally at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Golden, Colo. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

No evidence Trump made claimed statement about FBI probes

USA TODAY’s assessment of the claim relied primarily on Factba.sea searchable database of all public communications from Trump, including tweets, videos of campaign speeches and transcripts. Factba.se meets the standards of the Credibility Coalition and is often cited by major media outlets. 

USA TODAY found the FBI’s investigation into Clinton – which rebuked Clinton as “extremely careless” but didn’t recommend criminal charges – was a staple of Trump’s stump speeches in 2016. In at least one case – a rally in Jacksonville, Florida on Nov. 3, 2016, a date not mentioned in the claim – Trump insinuated that Clinton’s legal troubles would impair her ability to perform her duties if she were elected, saying:

Here we go again with Clinton, you remember the impeachment, and the problems? She’s likely to be under investigation for many, many years, also likely to conclude in a criminal trial. This is not what we need in this country, folks. We need somebody that’s going to go to work to bring our jobs back, to take care of our military, to strengthen up our borders.

Nonetheless, during the total of 14 campaign speeches Trump gave on the six dates listed in the post, he never once said that “anyone being investigated by the FBI is not qualified to be the President of the United States” – much less on multiple  occasions. 

In addition, the statement did not appear in any of Trump’s tweets, including deleted tweets, according to Factba.se, Politwoops and The Trump Twitter Archive. USA TODAY also did not find any news articles or other online records mentioning the supposed quote.

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Videos and transcripts from Factba.se and other sources show the comments that did mention Clinton and the FBI hinged almost exclusively on Clinton’s alleged misconduct, rather than the fact that she was being investigated. 

Some examples: 

Daytona Beach, Florida, Aug. 3, 2016:

You have the FBI director saying she lied. Said she lied. Said she was negligent. Said all of these things. And now she’s running for president. Shouldn’t happen. Shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Philadelphia, Sept. 7, 2016:

The new revelations about Hillary Clinton from the just-released FBI documents make more clear than ever that she fails to meet the minimum standard for running for public office … Her conduct is disqualifying.

Bangor, Maine, Oct. 15, 2016:

Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted, and gone to jail for her crimes. The FBI and the Department of Justice created a fraud in allowing Hillary Clinton to get away with her terrible crimes — and I guarantee you, the Clintons are laughing at them.

Las Vegas, Oct. 30, 2016:

As you’ve heard it was just announced on Friday that the FBI is reopening their investigation into the criminal and illegal conduct of Hillary Clinton. Hillary has nobody but herself to blame for her mounting legal problems. Her criminal action was willful, deliberate, intentional and purposeful.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Trump said, “Anyone being investigated by the FBI is not qualified to be the President of the United States” on six different dates in 2016. There is no evidence Trump ever made this statement or a statement similar to it on any of the dates listed in posts that make the claim, according to transcripts of his appearances and rallies from Aug. 3, Sept. 7, Oct. 15, Oct. 20, Oct. 21 and Oct. 30 of 2016.

Our fact-check sources:

Contributing: BrieAnna Frank

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