Trump has not invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807
CLAIM: It has been officially confirmed that the Insurrection Act has been secretly signed by President Donald Trump.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The president has not invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807 in an effort to stay in office. To do so he would have to make a public declaration giving clear reasons for the move, which allows a president to call on the military to address a domestic crisis.
THE FACTS: Posts online are falsely suggesting that the president has invoked the act, which they claimed would keep him from being removed from office on Jan. 20 or from being impeached. The U.S. House impeached Trump for the second time Wednesday, on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” for the deadly siege on the Capitol.
Videos online that have gained tens of thousands of views are encouraging Americans to stock up on food, gasoline and prepare for a lockdown under the act. Posts making the false claim about the act say that they obtained their information from government sources.
“The president is in control of the military,” one Facebook video said. “I told you he wasn’t done yet.”
Another post said that because Trump had secretly invoked the act that “everything that Congress and the Senate are about to do is just theater, means nothing.”
In the past, presidents have invoked the act in response to domestic disturbances or following natural disasters to restore order and supplement civilian authorities and not supplant them, said Stephen Vladeck, constitutional law professor at the University of Texas Law School.
In order for Trump to invoke the act, he would first have to first announce that those responsible for the insurrection disperse within a designated amount of time and then he could activate federal troops if there was an emergency without approval from state governors. False posts also began circulating claiming to be from the president himself. However, the president has made no such declaration.
“They have no basis in fact and it’s legally implausible,” Vladeck said in response to the posts. “Even if somehow this happened anyway, it would not actually do what the conspiracy theorists say it would do.”
After the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, members of Congress began calling for the president to be impeached after he encouraged protesters to “fight like hell” against election results. Soon after, the president’s supporters and conspiracy theorists began sharing posts that discussed ways that Trump could stay in power despite President-elect Joe Biden being inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Despite what the posts online say, the act could not be signed quietly. Vladeck said the president would have to publicly proclaim that an insurrection has occurred and that he was invoking the act.
President George H.W. Bush invoked the act in 1992 in response to the Los Angeles riots which occurred after a jury had acquitted four white police officers in the death of black motorist Rodney King.
“There is no secretive Insurrection Act,” Josh Krastenberg, professor of law at the University of New Mexico, said. “It’s not constitutional to invoke the Insurrection Act to stay in power.”
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536