Fact check: Republicans continue to push false narratives about January 6
Updated 6:14 PM ET, Wed May 12, 2021
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Democrats spar with Trump's former Pentagon Chief over Capitol riot response 04:07
Washington (CNN)During Wednesday's hearing about the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, House Republicans spent much of their time repeating a number of false claims about the insurrection as well as sugarcoating the actions of former-President Donald Trump and his supporters.
In pushing their false narrative, GOP lawmakers attempted to downplay the events of January 6, suggesting Trump supporters may not have been involved in the attack and even questioning whether the attack should be called an insurrection.
'Normal tourist visit'
One of the most egregious claims came from Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia who said that while there was an "undisciplined mob" and "some who committed acts of vandalism," many were behaving orderly, comparing them to a "normal tourist visit."
"Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures," Clyde said. "You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit."
Facts First: This is absolute nonsense. Clyde is referring to one moment after the rioters broke into the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall. Other footage of January 6, however, shows rioters beating a police officer with a flagpole, as well as using police shields to smash through windows and clambering over the Capitol walls -- not typical tourist behavior.
The congressman's comments ignore large amounts of the destruction and violence captured that day, including members of the mob tearing down police barricades, attacking Capitol police officers, raiding congressional offices and attempting to break into the House Chamber.
Capitol breach timeline
Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia played an outsized role Wednesday, making false assertions in an effort to distance Trump from what happened on January 6.
Arguing against the idea that then-President Donald Trump incited the riot, Hice claimed that the Capitol was "breached before individuals could have gotten" to the Capitol following Trump's speech on the Ellipse.
The congressman seems to be echoing an argument made by Trump's lawyers during the impeachment trial. The lawyers argued that because Trump's speech on January 6 ended after Capitol barriers were breached, the then-President could not have incited the attack on the Capitol.
Facts First: This narrative is misleading. It's true that the timeline shows that someone who attended the entirety of the speech at the Ellipse could not have been among the very first people to breach the Capitol grounds. But the attack lasted for hours, meaning people had more than enough time to attend Trump's speech at the park and then storm the Capitol; the FBI alleges that some participants did make this walk, including one who allegedly went from the Trump speech to her hotel and then into the Capitol. And all of this ignores the fact that insurrectionists near the Capitol could have listened to Trump's speech on their phones or could have been inspired by Trump's previous rhetoric from the months between Election Day and the January 6 riot.
Cause of death
Criticizing inaccurate initial reports on the cause of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick's death, Hice then attempted to counter the narrative that pro-Trump supporters were the ones causing the violence on January 6.
"In fact it was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others," Hice said.
Hice went on to list the four others who died following the events of January 6, including 34-year-old Rosanne Boyland from Kennesaw, Georgia.
"Rosanne Boyland reportedly was crushed by rioters," Hice said.
Facts First: While initial reports claimed Boyland had been crushed to death amongst the crowds at the Capitol, the DC medical examiner ultimately ruled her cause of death was an amphetamine overdose.
In an article published just days after the insurrection, The New York Times
reported that Boyland "appears to have been killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line, according to videos reviewed by The Times." At the time, DC's chief medical examiner said Boyland's cause and manner of death were "pending," according to the Times.
On April 7, the Washington Post first reported that the DC medical examiner determined Boyland's death was caused by "accidental acute amphetamine intoxication."
There was also some inadvertent fact checking through witness testimony.
During the hearing, an older narrative from Trump was refuted by his then-Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.
In a video posted
a day after the insurrection, Trump claimed that he had called in the National Guard "immediately."
"I immediately ordered the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders," Trump said.
Facts First: During the hearing Miller said he ordered the deployment of the DC National Guard and did not speak with Trump during the attack.
When asked if he had spoken to the President during the attack on the Capitol, Miller said he had not, adding, "I didn't need to. I had all the authority I needed and knew what had to happen."
Miller also said that while they spoke together during the insurrection, Vice President Mike Pence did not direct him to mobilize the DC National Guard and did not have that authority.
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