Fact check: A week of brazen Republican dishonesty

The top Republican in the House of Representatives...

Posted: May 16, 2021 10:11 AM

The top Republican in the House of Representatives said he doesn't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election -- even as many Republicans continued to publicly question the legitimacy of the presidential election.

A prominent Republican senator claimed that Democrats wrote a bill to register millions of undocumented immigrants to vote -- even though the bill explicitly and repeatedly says only US citizens would be eligible to register.

A bunch of other Republican legislators made brazen attempts to rewrite the reality of the Capitol insurrection -- even though we saw what happened with our own eyes.

That all happened this week. And that wasn't all that happened.

More than three months after President Donald Trump left office, members of his party continue to utter the kind of wildly dishonest claims that Trump himself was known for. Here is a quick roundup of some of the false and misleading claims Republicans in Congress made this week.

The legitimacy of the election

After meeting with Biden and other congressional leaders on Wednesday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed that "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with. We're sitting here with the President today."

Facts First: McCarthy's claim is not even close to true. Many Republicans continue to groundlessly question the legitimacy of the presidential election. One of them is former President Donald Trump -- who issued a Monday statement that falsely alleged the election had been marred by "the greatest Election Fraud in the history of our Country," a Thursday statement that falsely alleged it was a "corrupt, third world election" and a Friday statement that falsely alleged "the election was rigged and stolen."

McCarthy was responding to a question about Rep. Elise Stefanik, who was about to be elevated to a party leadership position. Stefanik herself continues to groundlessly question the election's legitimacy, telling a Washington Examiner interviewer on Monday that there were "election irregularities," "unconstitutional overreach" and a "lack of ballot security."

Who stormed the Capitol

South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman suggested Wednesday, at a House hearing on the insurrection, that we don't know whether it was actually Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol.

Reading from a timeline of January 6, which said that "Trump supporters" breached the steps of the Capitol at 2:07 pm, Norman interjected, "I don't know who did a poll that it's Trump supporters."

Facts First: This is nonsense. As CNN's Marshall Cohen noted on Twitter, participants in the insurrection wore Trump gear, flew Trump flags and chanted pro-Trump slogans. Numerous participants have said -- in media interviews, social media posts and interviews with federal investigators -- that they are Trump supporters. Also, Trump had asked supporters to come to Washington on January 6, then said in a January 6 video message directed to people at the Capitol -- officially aimed at getting them to leave the building -- that "I know your pain," that "we love you," and that the election was stolen from "us."

We can't speak for the political views of every single participant, especially because not everyone involved has been publicly identified. But there's no question that this was a riot overwhelmingly perpetrated by Trump fans.

An armed insurrection

On the House floor on Friday, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert downplayed the events of January 6. Gohmert said that there is "no evidence" that "this was an armed insurrection." He then clarified that he meant "armed" to refer to firearms in particular, claiming "there were no firearms."

Facts First: There is extensive evidence that participants in the insurrection were armed; people involved carried a wide variety of weapons or objects they used as weapons, from bear spray to a stun gun to a baseball bat to a flagpole. As for guns, one man has been charged with having a loaded gun on Capitol grounds that day.

Another man has been accused of parking a pickup truck filled with Molotov cocktails, an assault rifle and a handgun two blocks from the Capitol that day. He has also been accused of illegally carrying a handgun in Washington, DC, that day without a license.

It's also worth noting that many participants in the riot were allowed to leave the Capitol on January 6, without being searched, before being arrested in the following months after returning home -- so the absence of numerous immediate gun charges is not definitive proof that there were "no firearms" on Capitol grounds that day. Prosecutors have alleged that one participant claimed in a secretly recorded conversation that he was carrying a gun that day and that others around him were too.

Prosecutors have also alleged that members of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group likely stored weapons at a hotel in nearby Arlington, Virginia, as part of an alleged plan to have an armed rapid-response force at the ready.

Other claims

Here are some false and misleading Republican claims we fact checked in previous articles this week:

  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made the false claim about Democrats deliberately trying to register undocumented immigrants to vote.
  • Stefanik falsely claimed that the jobs report for April was the worst jobs report in over 20 years.
  • Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde said that while there was an "undisciplined mob" at the Capitol on January 6, some footage showed people walking through the building in an orderly fashion reminiscent of "a normal tourist visit."
  • Misleadingly minimizing Trump's role in stirring up the riot, Georgia Rep. Jody Hice said the Capitol was "breached before individuals could have gotten there" from Trump's nearby speech.

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