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Video makes false claims about Insurrection Act, transfer of power

January 20, 2021 GMT

A nine-minute video that has thousands of shares on Facebook and other social media mimics an emergency broadcast alert while peddling false claims regarding the transfer of the presidency. The video falsely suggests that President Donald Trump won the 2020 election and will be staying in office. In fact, former Vice President Joe Biden won the election and is slated to be inaugurated on Wednesday. It also peddles the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump is battling political enemies who are part of a pedophile and child sex trafficking ring, and suggests he will prevail to stay in power. The video claims the information comes from a Zoom conference with retired colonels, generals and L. Lin Wood Jr. Wood is an attorney who has been known to spread misinformation.

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CLAIM: “The mayor of Oklahoma City was informed by POTUS on Monday via email that the Insurrection Act has been enacted and arrests will begin in that city. This is the first of many cities this will happen in, so we now have confirmation that the Insurrection Act is in place.”

THE FACTS: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt received no such email, his Chief of Staff Steve Hill told The Associated Press in an email. “It’s utter nonsense,” Hill wrote. The AP has previously debunked bogus claims that Trump has secretly invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807 to stay in power. To do that, Trump would have to publicly proclaim that an insurrection has occurred and that he was invoking the act. He has taken no such step. Using the Insurrection Act to stay in power would be unconstitutional, Josh Krastenberg, professor of law at the University of New Mexico, told the AP. Trump has acknowledged that Biden will be inaugurated Wednesday and has said there will be an “orderly transition” of power.

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CLAIM: There are now 250,000 Chinese troops surrounding us, 75,000 in Canada and the rest in Mexico.

THE FACTS: The suggestion in the video is that China is getting ready to take over the United States if Biden is sworn in as president. But Chinese troops are not stationed in our neighboring countries. “That is a total lie,” Francisco Antonio Enríquez Rojas, the director of communications for Mexico’s Defense Department, told the AP. The head of media relations for Canada’s Department of National Defense, Daniel Le Bouthillier, also told the AP the claim is false.

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CLAIM: “This election was cyberwarfare on our country. A paper was sent to the White House on the voting in four states that showed Chinese cyberattacks moving votes from Trump to Biden. They have proof of this now.”

THE FACTS: There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, even as Trump and his allies claim otherwise. State and local election officials nationwide have called the November election one of the smoothest in recent memory, and Trump’s recently departed attorney general, William Barr, said he saw no evidence of widespread fraud. After voting concluded on Nov. 3, election officials in each state counted the results and verified the totals, investigating any discrepancies. Even in Arizona and Georgia, both traditionally right-leaning states where Biden won, Republican governors Doug Ducey and Brian Kemp, respectively, vouched for the integrity of their elections. The AP has debunked a range of false claims that votes were somehow switched from Trump to Biden. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, a federal agency that oversees U.S. election security, has said there’s no truth to claims that any voting system “deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised in the 2020 election.

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CLAIM: “Covid was a biological attack on our country to shut down our economy and push the mail-in ballots nationwide in order to pull off the steal along with the Dominion machines. The virus was a man-made bioweapon created in a Wuhan lab to take out as many of our elderly and the weak as possible to incite more fear globally.”

THE FACTS: The AP has debunked similar conspiracy theory posts suggesting that COVID-19 is a man-made virus that leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was not manufactured in a laboratory, according to top medical experts and one of the world’s top medical journals, Nature. The molecular structure of SARS-CoV-2 reveals that the virus wasnot created in a lab. Since the election, the AP has debunked numerous false claims that Dominion voting machines switched or deleted votes.

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CLAIM: The Capitol attack was antifa or BLM driven all “tactical deception.”

THE FACTS: Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters on Jan. 8 there’s “no indication” at this time that antifa a shortened form of “anti-fascists” that’s used as an umbrella term for far-left leaning militants were disguised as Trump supporters in the riot. According to reporting by the AP, more than 125 people have been arrested so far on charges related to the violent insurrection led by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol, where a Capitol police officer and four others were killed. Charges from the Jan. 6 riot range from curfew violations to serious federal felonies related to theft and weapons possession. The AP has reported that several of those arrested are hoping Trump will pardon them because they stormed the Capitol support of the president.

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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