AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s call to action distorted in debate
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House impeachment debate on Wednesday heard a distorted account of President Donald Trump’s remarks to his supporters a week ago when he exhorted them to “fight like hell” before they swarmed the Capitol.
REP. GUY RESCHENTHALER, R-Pa.: “At his rally, President Trump urged attendees to, quote, unquote, peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. There was no mention of violence, let alone calls to action.”
THE FACTS: Trump’s speech was a call to action — a call to fight and save the country.
“Our country has had enough,” he told those who went on to stage the violent siege of the Capitol.
“We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal.”
Reschenthaler accurately quoted a line from Trump, when the president told supporters “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
But throughout his remarks, Trump spoke of the need to “fight,” to be angry, to stop President-elect Joe Biden from taking office.
— “We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
— “We want to go back, and we want to get this right because we’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there and our country will be destroyed, and we’re not going to stand for that.”
— “Nobody knows what the hell is going on. There’s never been anything like this. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen.” The crowd repeatedly chanted “Fight for Trump!” “Thank you,” Trump said.
He assailed “weak,” “pathetic” Republicans who were not standing with him in his push to overturn the election results, and said “there’d be hell all over the country” if Democrats had been robbed of an election win.
“But just remember this,” he went on. “You’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down our nation.”
—“We will not be intimidated into accepting the hoaxes and the lies that we’ve been forced to believe over the past several weeks.”
He told his refuted stories of “ballot harvesting” and thousands of dead people voting.
—“And we got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them. We got to get rid of them.”
He perhaps meant challenging Republicans like Rep. Cheney of Wyoming in primaries, telling the crowd “in a year from now, you’re going to start working on Congress.” But he did not say exactly what he meant by getting rid of people.
“So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he concluded after more than an hour.
He didn’t walk, but they did, bearing Trump flags, overwhelming police and occupying the Capitol in an hours-long melee that left five people dead and exposed Trump to the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.
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