Reports Show Trump May Have Had Little To Do With SoftBank Deal He Took Credit For

On December 6, President-elect Donald Trump credited his election victory for spurring Japanese telecommunications and technology giant SoftBank to propose a $50 billion investment in the United States, which he claimed would create as many as 50,000 jobs. Later reporting from The Wall Street Journal and others debunked Trump’s boasts, but not before numerous media outlets amplified his unsubstantiated claims.

Trump Takes Credit For SoftBank Investments

Trump Announces Foreign Investment, Alleging It Will Create 50,000 Jobs. During an impromptu statement from the elevator lobby of Trump Tower, the president-elect claimed that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son had “just agreed to invest $50 billion in the United States and 50,000 jobs,” according to a video ABC News posted on Twitter. In a series of follow-up tweets, Trump claimed the Japanese technology firm “would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!”

DONALD TRUMP: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Masa, of SoftBank from Japan, and he's just agreed to invest $50 billion in the United States and 50,000 jobs. And he's one of the great men of industry, so I just want to thank you very much. If you'd like to speak to him you can, but one of the truly great men. [Twitter, 12/6/16 via ABC News]

[Twitter, 12/6/16]

[Twitter, 12/6/16]

Reporting Concludes Foreign Investment Plan Predated Trump’s Election

WSJ: SoftBank CEO Confirms Investments Will Come From Existing Fund That Predates Trump. In an article outlining details of the deal Trump supposedly struck, The Wall Street Journal reported that Son confirmed to them in an interview that the $50 billion would come from an existing $100 billion investment consortium set up “earlier this year with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund and other potential partners.” From the December 7 article:

The telecom mogul, who made his fortune in Japan with SoftBank GroupCorp., announced his investment plans in the lobby of Trump Tower, though he didn’t provide details. Mr. Trump took credit for the investment, saying his November victory spurred SoftBank’s decision.


In an interview, Mr. Son said the money will be coming from a $100 billion investment fund that he began setting up earlier this year with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund and other potential partners.


With the new $100 billion fund—dubbed the SoftBank Vision Fund—Mr. Son plans to spend heavily in fields including the so-called Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics. He has said he wants to become the Warren Buffett of the tech industry.

SoftBank plans to invest at least $25 billion during the next five years in the fund, while Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund may contribute an additional $45 billion over the same period as the fund’s lead partner. Other investors are still being finalized. Investments are expected to be made over the next five years. [The Wall Street Journal, 12/7/16]

CNBC: “The Reality Is That SoftBank Has Been All-In On The U.S. For Years.” According to an article from CNBC, which built on the Journal’s reporting, despite Trump’s claim to have spurred investment, “SoftBank has been all-in on the U.S. for years” and actually announced the $100 billion joint venture with Saudi Arabia in October. CNBC detailed numerous SoftBank investments in the United States, including the company’s hope to lead a telecommunications merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, which “fell apart in 2014 amid regulatory opposition.” From the December 7 article:

The reality is that SoftBank has been all-in on the U.S. for years.

In addition to its majority ownership of wireless carrier Sprint, SoftBank is a fixture in Silicon Valley. Last year, the company led a $1 billion investment in online lender SoFi, calling it a “game changer in the fintech space.” In October, SoftBank spearheaded a $130 million financing in Zymergen, a start-up that's combining automation and biology.

According to CB Insights, SoftBank has participated in 13 private company deals since the beginning of 2014, totaling $2 billion. Way back in 1996, SoftBank partnered with Yahoo to form Yahoo Japan. [, 12/7/16]

CNN’s New Day: “Are We Being Bamboozled By These Announcements?” On the December 7 edition of CNN’s New Day, international business correspondent Richard Quest asked, “Are we being bamboozled?” -- referring to Trump’s announcements in the last day, including the supposed SoftBank deal. Global economic analyst Rana Foroohar also questioned Trump’s claims, noting that he “will often take a nugget of truth and embed it in something that is murkier” and saying that it’s “worrisome” to see Trump’s commingling of private industry and the executive branch. Co-host Chris Cuomo remarked that SoftBank “didn't actually announce” the deal, adding that “a lot of this came from Trump” and “the details are very soft.” From the December 7 edition of CNN’s New Day:

[CNN, New Day, 12/7/16]

ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum: SoftBank Announcement Fits Trump’s “Formula For Manipulating The Public.” In a series of December 6 tweets, ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum hammered Trump over his SoftBank pronouncement, saying it fits “a formula” he has used “for manipulating the public” by generating positive media coverage of himself based on “a vague announcement that sounds greats but has no details.”

[Twitter, 12/6/16, 12/6/16, 12/6/16, 12/6/16, 12/6/16, 12/6/16]

Media Outlets Ran With Trump’s Boast Before Facts Were In

Fox Business Claimed Trump And SoftBank Negotiated Deal, Compared Trump To LBJ. Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that when Trump met with Son, “they negotiated a plan to invest $50 billion in U.S. businesses” on the December 7 edition of Varney & Co. Guest Liz Peek asserted that this deal was part of Trump’s “carrot and stick” approach with business, and she likened him to former President Lyndon Johnson for being so engaged:

[Fox Business, Varney & Co., 12/7/16]

Fox’s Bill O’Reilly: “I Don’t Know Much About It,” But “This Psychologically Helps Trump.” Fox host Bill O’Reilly praised Trump’s announcement of the SoftBank deal on the December 6 edition of The O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly admitted that “I don’t know that much about it” but still lavished Trump with praise for the deal and claimed it “psychologically helps Trump.”

[Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 12/6/16]

[The Blaze, 12/6/16]

[Breitbart, 12/6/16]

[CNNMoney, 12/6/16]

[The Daily Caller, 12/6/16]

[Politico, 12/6/16]

[The Washington Examiner, 12/6/16]