In late December 2020, readers searched the Snopes website with a query: Was U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, arrested at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) while traveling home for the winter holidays?
The answer is no, Schiff wasn’t arrested. But that didn’t stop trolls from spending Christmas and the days after busily posting it on social media. For example, many shared a screenshot of a message posted to a QAnon conspiracy message board:
Schiff, who chairs the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, spearheaded congressional investigations into allegations of wrongdoing by U.S. President Donald Trump, leading to the impeachment of Trump by the House of Representatives. Schiff has thus long been a favorite target of internet troll hoaxes and conspiracy theories.
The claim that Schiff was arrested appears to have originated from a Twitter account with the handle “MelaniasRhonda,” which has since been suspended by Twitter. The legal news site Law & Crime, however, captured screenshots of comments posted to the account before it was suspended. The user falsely claimed to have seen Schiff taken into custody at LAX on Christmas Eve.
Many accounts shared a screenshot allegedly from a website called LACountyArrrestRecords.org, which contains a disclaimer that it isn’t an “official source of information.” The website requires a monthly paid subscription to access information posted on it.
To be clear, Schiff’s name doesn’t show up in the official sources of arrest information in Los Angeles — the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department inmate locator or the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator. Additionally, we note that if a U.S. congressman, particularly one of Schiff’s stature, had been arrested, there would doubtlessly be mainstream news coverage, and there are no credible news reports or any other evidence of any such arrest.