Trump’s Lawyers Repeated Inaccurate Claims in Impeachment Trial

As they mounted their defense of the former president on Friday, Donald J. Trump’s lawyers made a number of inaccurate or misleading claims about the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Mr. Trump’s remarks, the impeachment process and 2020 election. Many claims were echoes of right-wing talking points popularized on social media or ones that were spread by Mr. Trump himself.

Here’s a fact check.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers were misleading about what happened on Jan. 6.

What Was Said

“Instead of expressing a desire that the joint session be prevented from conducting its business, the entire premise of his remarks was that the democratic process would and should play out according to the letter of the law.” — Michael van der Veen, lawyer for Mr. Trump

False. In his speech on Jan. 6 and before, Mr. Trump repeatedly urged former Vice President Mike Pence to reject the certification of the Electoral College votes, saying Mr. Pence should “send it back to the States to recertify.” Mr. Trump continued his speech on Jan. 6 saying he was “challenging the certification of the election.”

What Was Said

“Far from promoting insurrection of the United States, the president’s remarks explicitly encouraged those in attendance to exercise their rights peacefully and patriotically.” — Mr. van der Veen

This is exaggerated. Mr. Trump used the phrase “peacefully and patriotically” once in his speech, compared with 20 uses of the word “fight.”

What Was Said

“As everyone knows, the president had spoken at hundreds of large rallies across the country over the past five years. There had never been any moblike or riotous behaviors.” — Mr. van der Veen

This is misleading. While no other Trump rally has led to a siege of the Capitol, there have been episodes of violence, sometimes encouraged by the president. Less than two months before the riot on Jan. 6, Mr. Trump waved to supporters who had gathered in Washington to protest his election loss and who later violently clashed with counterprotesters. Previously, other supporters had attacked counterprotesters, and in one case a BBC cameraman, at several Trump rallies. Mr. Trump called one victim “disgusting” and offered to pay the legal fees of a supporter who had punched a protester.

The Trump Impeachment ›

What You Need to Know

    • A trial is being held to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is guilty of inciting a deadly mob of his supporters when they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, violently breaching security measures and sending lawmakers into hiding as they met to certify President Biden’s victory.
    • The House voted 232 to 197 to approve a single article of impeachment, accusing Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to impeach him.
    • To convict Mr. Trump, the Senate would need a two-thirds majority to be in agreement. This means at least 17 Republican senators would have to vote with Senate Democrats to convict.
    • A conviction seems unlikely. Last month, only five Republicans in the Senate sided with Democrats in beating back a Republican attempt to dismiss the charges because Mr. Trump is no longer in office. Only 27 senators say they are undecided about whether to convict Mr. Trump.
    • If the Senate convicts Mr. Trump, finding him guilty of “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” senators could then vote on whether to bar him from holding future office. That vote would only require a simple majority, and if it came down to party lines, Democrats would prevail with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.
    • If the Senate does not convict Mr. Trump, the former president could be eligible to run for public office once again. Public opinion surveys show that he remains by far the most popular national figure in the Republican Party.

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