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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman February 11, 2020

Photo of Army sergeant’s family wasn’t taken when Pelosi ripped up Trump’s speech

If Your Time is short

  • Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Hake was killed in 2008 by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He and his family were recognized during the 2020 State of the Union.

  • An emotional photo of Sgt. Hake’s widow and son was taken during the address, not when Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of the speech at the conclusion.

One of the most talked about moments of President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address came at the end, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of his speech.

Republicans called it disrespectful, while Democrats celebrated the moment and said Trump had it coming after he snubbed Pelosi’s offered handshake when he arrived. 

Several misleading claims about the viral moment have also surfaced online, including one assertion that Pelosi "broke the law" when she ripped up the speech, a false claim that Trump subsequently repeated

Now, a new claim posted on Facebook says a photo of an Army sergeant’s widow and son,  who Trump spoke about during his address, was looking on with tearful eyes as Pelosi ripped up the speech.

The post displays a split image of Pelosi tearing the speech and one of Kelli and Gage Hake, the widow and son of Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Hake, who was killed in 2008 while serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. 

Featured Fact-check

The image shows Kelli wiping her face as her son comforts her. Text below the photos say:

"With his widow and son looking on, Speaker Pelosi ripped up the speech containing the name of Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake, killed in the line of duty in Iraq."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The photo of the Hakes was not altered. But the moment did not come when Pelosi was tearing the speech. It came before, when Trump introduced the family and was speaking about Sgt. Hake.

A similar photo of Kelli Hake wiping her eyes was taken by the Associated Press at 10:14 p.m. (ET), the time that Trump was speaking about Hake and the roadside bomb that killed him in Baghdad in 2008.

While the image is from the same event, and the speech does contain Sgt. Hake’s name, the post makes it look like it’s showing the family’s reaction to Pelosi’s action. That’s incorrect. We rate it False.

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Photo of Army sergeant’s family wasn’t taken when Pelosi ripped up Trump’s speech

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