Former President and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participated in a CNN town hall Wednesday where he made numerous false claims about the violence at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Here is a fact check of some of those claims.
Security on January 6
Former President Donald Trump tried to blame then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the violence on January 6, 2021 – when his own supporters stormed the US Capitol, claiming she was “in charge” of security that day.
Facts First: This is false. The speaker of the House is not in charge of Capitol security. That’s the responsibility of the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the US Capitol Police and approves requests for National Guard assistance.
Trump’s former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller also told lawmakers that he was never given a formal order by Trump to have 10,000 troops ready to be sent to the Capitol on January 6. “There was no direct, there was no order from the president,” Miller said.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent an email saying the National Guard would be present to “protect pro Trump people” in the lead up to the US Capitol insurrection, according to the report released by the January 6 committee.
From CNN’s Zachary Cohen
January 6 violence
Trump asserted “a couple” of the January 6 rioters “probably got out of control,” comparing the insurrection to left-leaning protests that turned violent in other cities.
Facts First: This statement is false. Hundreds of rioters have been charged with violence toward police on January 6 and Trump downplaying the violence and equivocating the insurrection with social justice protests fails to recognize the severity of the attack on the Capitol.
The January 6 riot of Trump-supporters who overran the Capitol has resulted in the largest law enforcement response in modern history – because of the sheer amount of violence on the ground, especially toward police, that day.
The number of rioters on January 6 who’ve been charged with violence toward police is in the hundreds.
According to the Justice Department this week, 346 people face federal charges for assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or other employees. That includes more than 100 people charged with using a weapon or causing serious injury to an officer. About five dozen have pleaded guilty to felony charges for these types of crimes.
And the FBI is still seeking information to identify more than 220 others who may have committed violent crimes on the Capitol grounds.
Even Trump-appointed federal judges have countered claims that left-leaning rioters in Portland, for instance, acted similarly to the pro-Trump crowd on January 6.
Judge Trevor McFadden wrote when handling a January 6 rioter’s case in 2021: “Although both Portland and January 6 rioters attacked federal buildings, the Portland defendants primarily attacked at night, meaning that they raged against a largely vacant courthouse. In contrast, the January 6 rioters attacked the Capitol in broad daylight. And many entered it.”
And another federal judge in DC, Carl Nichols, wrote: “The Portland rioters’ conduct, while obviously serious, did not target a proceeding prescribed by the Constitution and established to ensure a peaceful transition of power. Nor did the Portland rioters, unlike those who assailed America’s Capitol in 2021, make it past the buildings’ outer defenses.”
Police on January 6
Trump said that the police officer who shot pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt was a “thug” who “went on television to brag about the fact that he killed her.”
Facts First: The US Capitol Police officer involved in the shooting, Lt. Michael Byrd, was defending the Speaker’s Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber in the Capitol building, during the riot. Babbitt’s fatal shooting occurred as a crowd tried to push through the Speaker’s Lobby doorway while the House was in still in session, according to the House select committee investigating January 6.
The Capitol Police declined to pursue any disciplinary action against Byrd, saying that they had “determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy.” The Justice Department also said they would not prosecute Byrd, saying there was “insufficient evidence” to support a criminal case.
Byrd later did an interview with “NBC Nightly News,” where he said that he acted because “there was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress.” Byrd said during the interview that he came forward publicly after being the focus of vitriol in right-wing circles.
From CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz
Pence on January 6
Trump said that he doesn’t believe then Vice President Mike Pence was “in any danger” during the several hours that a pro-Trump mob laid siege to the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Facts First: While Trump’s belief is subjective, this statement leaves out key details.
Although Pence was safely evacuated from the Senate chamber, swarms of rioters were caught on videotape moving through the Capitol building chanting “hang Mike Pence!”
Other threats levied at Pence from members of the mob included “If Pence caved, we’re going to drag m*therf*ckers through the streets,” and that Pence “is nothing but a traitor” and “deserves to burn with the rest of them.”
Pence himself said that the former president’s “reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
From CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz