Did Donald Trump Beat Taylor Swift In Pop Charts?

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Donald Trump is not short of contests right now, with his presidential campaign, his ongoing civil trial in New York, and multiple other legal battles.

The former president took the stand on Monday in New York for his $250 million civil fraud trial, accused of inflating his net worth by billions of dollars to obtain benefits such as better bank loans. He denies wrongdoing and says that all of his legal troubles amount to “election interference.”

While the trial and Trump’s other legal worries play out, there was at least one challenger he says he bested, claiming he beat pop behemoth Taylor Swift in the charts.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump at his trial in New York State Supreme Court on November 06, 2023 in New York City, and Taylor Swift attends the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” Concert Movie World Premiere at AMC The Grove 14 on October 11, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. The former president recently claimed he “beat” Taylor Swift in the charts.
L-R: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The Claim

A post on X, formerly Twitter, by GOP advocacy group Republican Accountability, on November 2, 2023, viewed 1 million times, included a video of Donald Trump at a rally in Houston, which he attended that same day.

In the clip, a recording is heard of The Star-Spangled Banner sung by defendants jailed for their alleged roles in the January 2021 Capitol riot.

After the playback, Trump said: “I call them the J6 hostages. Not prisoners, I call them the hostages, what’s happened and it’s a shame. And, you know, they did that [the song] and they asked me whether or not I would partake and do the beautiful words, and I said ‘Yes I would’, and you saw the spirit. The spirit was incredible.

“And when that came out it went to the number one song, it was beating everybody. It beat Taylor Swift, it beat Miley Cyrus, who was number one and two. They were number one and two, we knocked them off for a long time.

“That song was out there for a long time. Then of course they had a problem with the internet, y’know, and so all of a sudden they said ‘Oh there’s a problem, we’ll have to take it off.’ And we raised hell and it went back on.

“It was up there for a long time. It was a number one record or song, it was for months.”

The Facts

Justice for All, a collaboration between Donald Trump and a group of jailed defendants facing charges over the 2021 U.S. Capitol siege, was released online in March 2023.

As was reported widely at the time, the song did reach the top of the iTunes chart. iTunes does not post archived lists of their charts—Newsweek has contacted Apple for a copy of chart data for March 2023.

Archived chart results show Trump’s single was at the top of the U.S. iTunes chart from March 12 to March 15, 2023.

Taylor Swift did not have a recently released record in the charts at that time. Her previous single Lavender Haze was released in November 2022. Justice for All was pushed off the top of the chart when Swift released four previously unreleased songs on March 19 to mark her Eras tour. The songs were not full promotional releases.

The January 6 Trump song would climb back just above Swift in the following days.

Trump was accurate in saying the song’s chart position was ahead of Miley Cyrus’ Flowers in the U.S. iTunes chart, but not in international charts. Flowers also topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart on March 25.

Billboard Hot 100 is calculated by physical and digital sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

Justice for All did not feature in the chart and did not have a physical release; however the song entered Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart at No.1 on March 25.

Newsweek has contacted a media representative for Trump via email.

Swift’s new album 1989 (Taylor’s Version) has set new sales records, according to Billboard, in an already astonishing career.

The pop star has been vocal in her opposition to Donald Trump, saying of the then-president in a 2019 interview with The Guardian: “We’re a democracy—at least, we’re supposed to be—where you’re allowed to disagree, dissent, debate. I really think that he thinks this is an autocracy.”

The Ruling

Needs Context

Needs Context.

Justice For All charted for several days in March 2023 in the iTunes chart.

Taylor Swift’s most recent single before then was released in November 2022. Swift put out four previously unreleased tracks days after Justice for All topped the iTunes chart in order to mark her new tour.

That collection of previously unreleased Swift songs would briefly dislodge Trump from the top of that chart before Justice For All returned to the No.1 spot.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team