Fact Check: Did President Trump Incite Riot at U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021

NOT EXACTLY NEWS – Elected Democrats in Washington, D.C. have claimed that former President Donald J. Trump incited the violent uprising at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The claim:

House Speaker, Democrat Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and congressional Democrats drafted partisan based articles of impeachment against former President Trump.

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment, for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Further, section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States from “hold[ing] and office … under the United States.’ In his conduct while President of the United States — and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, provide, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States, in that:

On January 6, 2021, pursuant to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the House of Representatives, and the Senate met at the United States Capitol for a Joint Session of Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College. In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials. Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump, addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. There, he reiterated false claims that “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.” He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts.

President Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021, followed his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Those prior efforts included a phone call on January 2, 2021, during which President Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffensperger if he failed to do so.

In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

Is it fake news?

Whether or not House and Senate Democrats truly believed whether or not President Donald J. Trump incited the January 6th riot, their team of lawyers failed to convince the required amount of jurors in the U.S. Senate of their indictment against the government.   After a week-long public impeachment trial, Trump was found not guilty.

Statement by Trump lawyer Bruce Castor:

So the word incitement is the critical case and the critical issue in the case. Now, the first time that you heard from us, I told you that you would never hear from side that what happened on January 6th was anything other than horrific and that the 45th president of the United States and his lawyers and his entire team adamantly denounce that violence by those criminals that occurred in this very chamber, this very building.

There was a reason why we started our presentation back on Tuesday in that way because I did not want the Senators to consider that there was any challenge to that particular fact. And yet the House managers, knowing it was not contested at all, chose to spend 14 plus hours showing you pictures of how horrific the attack on the United States Capitol was. They spent no time at all in connecting legally the attack on the Capitol to the 45th president of the United States, which is the only question that needs to be answered is was Donald Trump responsible for inciting the violence that came to this building on January 6th?

Several of my colleagues at the House managers got up and spoke about the proceeding in the House being like a grand jury proceeding. Well, I’ve been in grand jury proceedings. I have run grand juries. In grand jury proceedings, you call witnesses, you hear evidence, you make transcripts, you take affidavits, you develop physical evidence, you hear reports from police officers, you hear forensic analysis from scientists. In fact, you invite the target of the grand jury to come in and testify if he or she pleases to be heard by the grand jury. Which one of those things happened in the House prior to the impeachment article? I don’t believe any of them happened. So the suggestion that what happened in the House was anything at all like a grand jury investigating a case and preferring it for prosecution is complete nonsense. And if the House managers are trying to fool you about that, you must ask yourself, what else are they trying to fool you about? Let’s look more closely at the president’s speech. We have mentioned this line before, but it is so critical we need to talk about it again. The president asked that the attendees at his rally peacefully make their voices heard.

Verdict: 100% Not News

The U.S. Senate acquitted President Donald J. Trump on February 13th, 2021 and found him innocent as charged under the Article of Impeachment.   The vote to acquit Trump fell mostly along partisan lines with just 7 Republican senators voting in favor of impeachment along with every Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democrat who presided over the impeachment trial announced on February 13th, President Trump is not guilty as charged by the Democrat party.

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