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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., displays the signed article of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., displays the signed article of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., displays the signed article of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg January 13, 2021

A week after supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol, Trump became the first president to be impeached twice.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump a "clear and present danger" to the nation. The final vote was 232 to 197.

While most Republicans rejected impeachment as unnecessary, vindictive or rushed, 10 of them broke with their colleagues.  They argued Trump had to be held accountable for spreading baseless claims that the election tally had been rigged.

Even as top-ranking Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy said he opposed impeachment, he said Trump "bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters."

"He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding," McCarthy said. "These facts require immediate action by President Trump, accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure that President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term."

McCarthy and many other Republicans argued that impeaching Trump would only further divide a polarized nation.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., countered that "we will never have unity without truth."

"Words have consequences," McGovern said. "What happened would never have happened, if everybody stood up in unity and called out the president when he was not telling the American people the truth, when he was pushing a big lie."

We fact-checked several of the claims made on the House floor.

"Democrats objected to more states in 2017 than we did last week, but somehow we’re wrong." — Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio

This is misleading on two counts. While Jordan is correct on the number of states — Democrats challenged the results from nine states in 2017, and Republicans objected to two in 2021 — the circumstances of the objections were far different.

In the 2017 joint session of Congress to certify the results of the Electoral College, Democrats did not challenge the validity of the final tally. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had long conceded. In 2021, many Republicans did aim to change the results.

The scale and scope of objections was much larger in 2021. In 2017, six Democratic representatives lodged objections, but no Democratic senator signed on to any of them. That meant that each one died right after being raised. In 2021, by contrast, seven Republican senators joined with as many as 138 Republican representatives. 

The 2020 presidential election was "an election that 80 million Americans, half the electorate, Republicans and Democrats, have their doubts about." — Rep. Jordan

The number is a bit high, and the meaning is unclear. According to several polls taken in November, about 39% of the public said they were not completely confident in the results of the election. That translates into about 60 million people. Jordan said 80 million was half the electorate, and roughly 160 million people voted in the election. 

What is unclear is what people meant when they voiced a lack of confidence. Some might believe that votes were stolen, or that people voted fraudulently. Some might believe that some voters were denied the opportunity to vote. 

The mob "seized the Capitol … as the Trump family and White House aides watched gleefully on television."  — Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

This is wrong. A similar claim circulated on social media, purportedly backed up by a video from Donald Trump Jr. That video showed Trump, chief of staff Mark Meadows, and others milling about in a tented space. A large monitor shows the rally outside the White House. The scene did not take place while a mob stormed the Capitol. Rather, it was at the rally before Trump spoke. When the attack took place, Trump was inside the White House. 

"And then we have the 2020 presidential election, where the president correctly pointed out unconstitutional behavior, voting irregularities, concerns over tabulations, dead people voting, and now impeachment again."  — U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

This is wrong. More than 60 lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies seeking to overturn the election failed because they were unable to prove their allegations, including about voter fraud. Republicans and Trump appointees were among the judges that rejected these lawsuits. 

In fact, judges pointed out that it was the plaintiffs who sought to take away voters’ rights. "Plaintiffs seek to remedy the denial of their votes by invalidating the votes of millions of others," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Matthew W. Brann in a Pennsylvania case. "Rather than requesting that their votes be counted, they seek to discredit scores of other votes, but only for one race. This is simply not how the Constitution works."

Officials from two Department of Homeland Security committees released a joint statement after the election debunking Trump’s rampant misinformation campaign. "The Nov. 3 election was the most secure in American history," the statement says. 

Fact-checkers looked into multiple claims that ballots were cast on behalf of dead people in large numbers and found they were false. Similarly, claims on behalf of Trump about widespread "voting irregularities" were unproven.

"President Trump rightly pointed out the improper activities of the Biden crime family and subsequently he's been proven right." — Rep. Gaetz

This is wrong. Hunter Biden, son of President-elect Joe Biden, faces allegations that his business activities ran afoul of the law. While his taxes are under investigation, and a separate probe on money laundering potentially could touch some of his affairs, nothing has yet been proved.

A Republican Senate report said Biden had received $3.5 million from the widow of the former mayor of Moscow, but Democrats say the paper trail fails to back that up. The Republicans declined to share the documents that would verify their conclusion.

A number of allegations center on Hunter Biden’s work in China. His investments have raised ethical questions, but it isn’t clear that any law was violated.

"Democrats have spent (the past four years) endorsing and enabling violent riots that left billions in property damage and 47 dead across the United States." — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

This is wrong. Over the summer, Democratic leaders decried the looting, fires and fighting that happened in some riots across the country after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd.

Biden defended protests against police brutality as "right and necessary."

"But burning down communities and needless destruction is not," Biden wrote May 31. "Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not."

Pelosi said some people were exploiting otherwise non-violent protests and undercutting their message. 

"Firebombing police cars, burning down businesses, and ravishing our neighborhoods dishonors the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and will destroy thousands of livelihoods," Pelosi said June 2.

Rep. James Clyburn, Democratic House Whip, said "peaceful protest is our game."

"Setting a fire, throwing stones at police officers, that's destructive behavior which will not contribute to anything that will make this a better country," Clyburn said June 3

"Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that." — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

This is true. In the first hours and days after the attack on the Capitol, it was a common talking point on the right that antifa activists — a blanket term for a loose collection of activists who rally against fascism and far-right groups — organized the entire affair. We heard these claims from Republican lawmakers, such as Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., from Fox News hosts and other conservative pundits.

Nothing cited as evidence held up. The claim that a facial recognition firm had spotted antifa members evaporated when the firm said it had identified only people with neo-Nazi affiiliations. 

FBI assistant director Steven D’Antuono said in a press briefing that the agency has "no indication" that antifa played a role in the riot.

"The hypocrisy of the left is on full display … ‘Take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.’ ... Sound familiar?" — Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

At best, an apples-to-oranges comparison. Boebert’s claim goes back to remarks Biden made in reference to Trump’s lewd comments about women, caught in an "Access Hollywood" video before Trump became president.

"They asked me if I'd like to debate this gentleman, and I said, 'No.' I said, 'If we were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him’," Biden said about Trump during a March 2018 event at the University of Miami.

In a podcast interview later that month, Biden said he "shouldn’t have said what I said."

Biden had made similar remarks in October 2016. "The press always asks me, don't I wish I were debating him?" Biden said. "No, I wish we were in high school, I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish."

"What about the gentlewoman from New York who defended the looting by saying looters just wanted loaves of bread?" — Rep. Boebert

Boebert appears to be referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., but she misrepresented what Ocasio-Cortez said.

Speaking about an uptick in crime in New York City, Ocasio-Cortez in July 2020 mentioned several reasons why she thinks that might have been happening, among them: "Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren't paying their rent and are scared to pay their rent and so they go out and they need to feed their child and they don't have money. … They are put in a position where  they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry."

PolitiFact staff writers Amy Sherman and Miriam Valverde contributed to this report.

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