The House debate over Tweety McTreason’s second impeachment, for inciting a riot at the Capitol that left five people dead last week, featured some false and misleading claims from a few Republicans.
Democrats argued Trump should be removed immediately for riling up his supporters with false claims of a stolen election at a Jan. 6 rally, hours before the crowd turned violent and marched on the Capitol. Some Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), agreed Trump had poured fuel onto the fire but argued impeachment would be excessive with only days left to go in his term. Other Republicans minimized Trump’s inflammatory remarks and spun the facts to defend him.
Here’s a roundup of a few claims that caught our attention. We usually don’t award Pinocchios when we round up multiple claims, but many of these claims are well-worn, misleading defenses from Trump and his allies.
“Before the last presidential impeachment, Tweety McTreason rightly pointed out the improper activities of the Biden crime family, and subsequently, he’s been proven right.”
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
Trump, without evidence, has repeatedly claimed President-elect Joe Biden is the head of an organized crime family and a corrupt politician, and Gaetz was parroting that line of attack from the House floor.
Unlike Trump, Biden released decades of tax returns, and no evidence has emerged of corruption or shady dealings.
Hunter Biden, one of his sons, secured international business deals that might not have come his way had he not been the vice president’s son. Critics have noted that the younger Biden received hundreds of thousands of dollars for his appointment to the board of a Ukrainian energy company, and also did business in China.
A lengthy Wall Street Journal examination of Hunter Biden’s business dealings, published Dec. 22, 2020, concluded: “None of the Journal’s reporting found that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s business activities. The tax investigation doesn’t implicate the president-elect, according to people familiar with the matter.”
“Then we have the 2020 presidential election, where the president correctly pointed out unconstitutional behavior, voting irregularities, concerns over tabulations, dead people voting and now, impeachment again.”
Notice how Gaetz avoids the word “fraud,” though his remarks seem to insinuate that the election results were tainted. In fact, election security experts, including those in the Trump administration, say the 2020 presidential election was one of the most secure in U.S. history.
Although Trump and his defenders allege some states violated the Constitution with changes to their election procedures this year, the president’s legal arguments were resoundingly rejected; the Trump campaign filed and lost more than 60 legal challenges in courts across the country.
Gaetz mentions “concerns about tabulations, dead people voting,” but he’s scaremongering. Election officials across the country have run down these claims and have found they often don’t add up.
“A similar complaint was brought before a PA court — and soundly rejected,” the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General said in a statement. “The court found no deficiency in how PA maintains its voter rolls, and there is currently no proof provided that any deceased person has voted in the 2020 election.”
According to the Associated Press, a registered Republican in Luzerne County, Pa., tried to apply for an absentee ballot in his deceased mother’s name. But he was caught.
“For three years, Democratic members of this body and the mainstream media lied to the American people that the Trump campaign colluded and conspired with Russia. For years, after an exhaustive investigation [it] was found that there was no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.”
— Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.)
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III revealed significant criminal activity by some of Trump’s campaign advisers and by Russian individuals and entities. The special counsel concluded Russian government actors successfully hacked emails from officials at the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks, to harm Clinton and help Trump in 2016.
The special counsel’s report, released in April 2019, concluded the Trump campaign welcomed the assistance from Russia even if it did not coordinate with it: “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The Mueller report documents numerous contacts between Russian actors and Trump campaign officials. To name a few: a meeting at Trump Tower between Trump advisers and family members and a Russian lawyer, and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort offering “private briefings” to a Russian oligarch linked to the Kremlin and sending internal polling to an alleged former Russian intelligence officer.
“I also want to thank my Democratic colleagues for finally joining Republicans in condemning mob violence after six months of refusing to acknowledge it.”
— Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Tex.)
Several Republicans claimed Democrats were outraged by the pro-Trump mob that left five people dead at the Capitol but were silent on the looting and riots seen in 2020 in various cities. But Democratic leaders including Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have also spoken out against the 2020 riots.
“We support peaceful demonstrations,” Pelosi said in a floor speech in September. “We participate in them. They are part of the essence of our democracy. That does not include looting, starting fires or rioting. They should be prosecuted. That is lawlessness.”
Biden, in a speech in Philadelphia on June 2, said: “There’s no place for violence, no place for looting or destroying property or burning churches or destroying businesses. … We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest and opportunistic violent destruction.”
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