Fact check: 5 enduring lies about Capitol insurrection


They have falsely claimed all of the rioters were unarmed. They have falsely claimed the people at the Capitol merely held a “protest” against an election they falsely claimed was fraudulent. They have falsely claimed the rioters were welcomed into the Capitol by police officers.

They have falsely claimed the riot was orchestrated by left-wing groups or the FBI. And they have falsely claimed nonviolent rioters are being jailed as “political prisoners.”

Here is a fact check of five of the most enduring lies about January 6.

Lie: The rioters were completely unarmed

Trump and some of his allies continue to claim that all of the people at the Capitol on January 6 were unarmed.

In a December 21 statement, Trump called January 6 a “completely unarmed protest.” Similarly, in a tweet on December 17, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia wrote, “One of the biggest holes in the lie about J6 being a planned insurrection is that all the people there were unarmed. Anyone with half a brain knows that gun owners only leave their firearms at home when they don’t feel the need to carry a gun or are obeying the law.”
Facts First: It’s not even close to true that all of the people at the Capitol on January 6 were unarmed — and the claim is still false even if it is specifically about guns. People who illegally entered Capitol grounds during the insurrection were armed with a wide variety of weapons, including guns, stun guns, knives, batons, baseball bats, axes and chemical sprays. The Department of Justice said in an official update last week that so far “over 75” people charged in connection to the attack “have been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon.”

We may never get a complete inventory of the concealed weapons the rioters possessed on January 6, since nearly all of the rioters were able to leave the Capitol without being detained and searched. But prosecutors have alleged that some of the people present at the Capitol were armed with guns, as were some other Trump supporters who traveled to Washington for January 6.

Mark Mazza of Indiana has been charged with crimes including possession of a firearm on Capitol grounds; he has pleaded not guilty. According to the Capitol Police, Mazza accidentally dropped his loaded revolver during a struggle with police on a Capitol terrace. He allegedly told investigators later that if he had visited House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that day, “you’d be here for another reason.”
Guy Reffitt of Texas has been charged with crimes including illegally carrying a semi-automatic handgun on Capitol grounds; he has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege Reffitt “specifically targeted at least two lawmakers — the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and then-Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell — whom he sought to physically remove or displace from the Capitol building.” And police allege Christopher Alberts of Maryland was arrested trying to flee Capitol grounds on January 6 with a loaded pistol; he has pleaded not guilty.
Mark Ibrahim, who was an off-duty special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration at the time of the riot, has been charged with crimes including carrying a firearm on Capitol grounds. Ibrahim, who has said he was later fired by the DEA (the DEA would confirm to CNN only that he no longer works there), was photographed that day displaying what appeared to be a handgun. He has pleaded not guilty.
In addition, Lonnie Coffman of Alabama, who pleaded guilty to weapons charges in November, admitted that he had carried two loaded pistols in Washington on January 6 and that a truck he had parked blocks from the Capitol contained additional loaded guns, Molotov cocktails and other weapons. Cleveland Meredith Jr., who pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Pelosi and was sentenced to 28 months in prison, drove from Colorado to Washington with a rifle and handgun that were found in his trailer outside a Washington hotel. The FBI said Meredith had told agents he had tried to get to Washington on January 5 but ended up arriving late on January 6.

Lie: The rioters were merely protesting a ‘rigged’ election

Trump called on his supporters to come to Washington on January 6 for a “wild” protest against President Joe Biden’s victory, which Trump falsely claimed was fraudulent. During his rally speech on the morning of January 6, Trump pushed that election lie, directed supporters to march to the Capitol and urged them to “fight like hell.”
After the insurrection, Trump continued to repeat the election lie for months — and adapted it to minimize what had happened at the Capitol. In an October statement, he claimed that the “real insurrection” was the 2020 election and January 6 was simply a “day of protesting.” (He also made similar claims later in the year.)
Facts First: Both parts of Trump’s claim are obvious lies. The election wasn’t rigged and wasn’t fraudulent; Biden won fair and square; there was a tiny smattering of voter fraud that was nowhere near…



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