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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke January 21, 2021

No, military tribunals didn’t start on Jan. 20

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  • There were no military tribunals at the Capitol on Jan. 20. 
  • President Joe Biden was inaugurated that day.

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden was sworn into office. His inauguration, though lacking the typical pomp, was peaceful and went off as planned. 

But some social media posts warned of something darker. 

"MILITARY TRIBUNALS START JAN. 20, 2021," said one widely shared Jan. 19 Facebook post said. "Jan. 20 is not an inauguration, rather a military trial that will be broadcast worldwide. The fences are facing inward as the white house and DC is now a prison encircling the swamp and the inauguration site, which is the military courtroom. Trump, Flynn and others said all crimes and evidence will be shown worldwide, they will all pay for their crimes and it will be done in full accordance of the law. So the Capitol building is now a military prison and court that will broadcast all crimes and arrests."

This 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.)

Of course, Jan. 20 was an inauguration. There was no military tribunal. 

After taking the oath of office, Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations in the Oval Office. Among the new president’s actions was an order to rejoin the Paris climate accord.

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Vice President Kamala Harris swore in U.S. Sens. Rev. Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff and Alex Padilla. 

And that night, an Inauguration Day special starring singers like Bruce Springsteen that was hosted by Tom Hanks aired on several networks. 

Followers of QAnon, a vast and baseless conspiracy theory with many tentacles, have preached about the military tribunals where a cabal of pedophiles then-President Donald was supposedly fighting would finally be punished.  

But after Trump boarded Air Force One for Florida and no tribunals materialized, some QAnon adherents started to grapple with the falsehoods they had come to believe

The events widely broadcast on Jan. 20 were a presidential inauguration ceremony and a musical special, not a tribunal. 

We rate the claim Pants on Fire!

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No, military tribunals didn’t start on Jan. 20

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