It is time to step off the campaign trail to fact check two big political events: The President’s trip to Cuba and the battle over his Supreme Court nominee. We put both events to the test on PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter.
“What political prisoners, or names, or when after this meeting you can give me a list of political prisoners, and if we have those political prisoners, they will be released before tonight ends,” Cuban President Raul Castro said while President Barack Obama visited Cuba this week.
While Castro claims his country holds no political prisoners, activists and human rights groups say that’s not true. What is in dispute is the actual number of those prisoners.
“We were actually surprised to find there is a range of estimates for how many political prisoners there are in Cuba, and experts disagree on the exact number, so we found estimates from 17 to as high as 97,” PolitiFact's Katie Sanders said.
While an exact count may not be possible, Castro’s regime cracks down weekly on demonstrators who want free expression.
PolitiFact rates Castro’s statement as FALSE.
Back in Washington, the battle over the vacant Supreme Court seat has heated up. Republicans are sticking to their plan not to hold any hearings or a vote on the president’s nominee, Merrick Garland.
Democrats, including Senate Leader Harry Reid, say that’s unprecedented.
“You have to look at what happened, we have never held up a supreme court nomination. Since 1900, in a lame duck session, there have been six and they’ve all been approved," Reid said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
“We found that Harry Reid actually has a pretty strong point here that Democrats have not held up nominees in the same way that Republicans currently are, by not even meeting with this nominee, not even having a confirmation hearing," Sanders said.
But PolitiFact does say that Democrats have put up strong opposition to Republican nominees, going so far as to mount a symbolic filibuster to Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2005. Eventually a vote was held, and he was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
PolitiFact rates Reid’s statement MOSTLY TRUE.