Tonight, Donald Trump tweeted that he “Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky – no Mexico” and “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”
There’s one problem with those statements. Ford Motor Company never was planning to shutter a Kentucky plant and send those jobs to Mexico.
Ford’s plan all along has been to shift small-car production from Michigan to Mexico, but without eliminating any American jobs in the process.
(UPDATE: 11/18/16 2:12 AM — The New York Times reports that Ford had planned — but had not previously announced — the Kentucky production of one SUV line to be shifted to Mexico. Ford is now not going ahead with that shift. But that plan never included a threat to close a Kentucky plant or reduce the number of Kentucky jobs. This information has been added to the timeline.)
Trump has been lying about Ford for more than a year. Ford and others have been calling him on it every step of the way. What’s stunning is that he’s still doing it after winning the election.
Here is a timeline of Trump’s lies and Ford’s responses:
October 24, 2015: Trump claims he has successfully pressured Ford to change course: “I brought [Ford’s Mexican investment plans] up in so many speeches, and frankly I think I embarrassed ’em … But Ford is now gonna build a massive plant in the United States, and every single person, even my harshest critics gave me credit for it.”
Two days later, Ford debunks in a statement to CNN, “Ford has not spoken with Mr. Trump, nor have we made any changes to our plans … We decided to move the F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks to Ohio Assembly in 2011, long before any candidates announced their intention to run for U.S. president.” The plan to shift small-car production to Mexico stays in place. (FactCheck.org also publishes a thorough debunking of a similar statement.)
September 15, 2016: Trump threatens Ford on Fox News, “when they make their car and they think they’re going to get away with this, and they fire all their employees in the United States, they move to Mexico, when that car comes back across the border into our country that now comes in free, we’re going to charge them a 35 percent tax.”
Ford CEO Mark Fields quickly appears on CNN to correct the record: “It’s really unfortunate when politics get in the way of the facts … what we announced is that we’ll be moving our Focus out of Michigan so we can compete more financially in that particular segment. But at the same time, and that’s an agreement we have with the UAW, and what we’ll be doing is we’ll be replacing those products with two very exciting new products. So not one job will be lost. And most of our investment is here in the U.S. and that is the way it will continue to be.”
September 26, 2016: Trump reiterates the lie in the first debate: “So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving. And we can’t allow it to happen anymore.”
UAW tweets in response: “Fact Check: @Ford is not moving jobs out of Michigan. Our agreement secures future product commitments for affected plants.” Ford also tweets, “There is no impact on US jobs. Ford’s American workers will build 2 new vehicles at the US plant where small cars are made today.”
October 5, 2016: Reuters reports that Ford Chair Bill Ford met with Trump in the summer and explained the situation to him. Bill Ford tells the Economic Club of Washington that Trump’s comments were “infuriating” and “frustrating.” He tells reporters that Trump “certainly knows the facts.”
October 17: Ford announces that some facilities, including one in Kentucky, will temporarily idle because of a sales dip. But the plan has nothing to do with sending production to Mexico.
November 15: CEO Fields reiterates again that even through Trump won the election, the small-car production shift to Mexico will still happen, and that no US jobs will be lost.
November 17: Trump claims “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky.” But the New York Times reports, “Ford makes the Lincoln MKC, a sport utility vehicle, at a factory in Louisville. Last week, Ford said it planned to move production of the vehicle elsewhere. On Thursday night, after Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages, the company said that Mexico had been the intended destination and that it would now keep MKC production in Kentucky. But Ford had not planned to close the Louisville factory. Instead, it had planned to expand production of another vehicle made in Louisville, the Ford Escape. And the change had not been expected to result in any job losses.”