Referring to a video displayed during U.S. President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial on Feb. 9, 2021, Rep. Jim Jordan, a fierce Trump supporter, alleged in the below-displayed Facebook post that House Democrats intentionally “left out” footage of the former president telling supporters on Jan. 6 to “peacefully and patriotically” protest the outcome of the 2020 election.
The following day, Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, echoed the allegation, tweeting: “There’s one line from President Trump’s January 6th speech that Democrats keep conveniently leaving out: ‘Peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.'”
To investigate the claim, we first gathered evidence to confirm or disprove that Trump made the comment to supporters on Jan. 6. According to video footage by Bloomberg and a transcript by Factba.se of Trump’s remarks during the so-called “Save America Rally” at Ellipse Park near the White House around noon (EST) that day, the former president indeed said:
After this, we’re going to walk down — and I’ll be there with you — we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down — anyone you want, but I think right here — we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing, and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated — lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard today.
He made that statement in the first half of the approximately 70-minute speech, which centered on baseless conspiracy theories advanced to convince Americans that he legally deserved another term in the White House.
Later in the remarks, as some of his supporters started breaching security barriers surrounding the Capitol, the former president also said:
We’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue — I love Pennsylvania Avenue — and we’re going to the Capitol. And we’re going to try and give — the Democrats are hopeless, they never vote for anything, not even one vote — but we’re going to try to give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help; we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.
In other words, it was true that Trump at one point told his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” leave the pro-Trump event at Ellipse Park — which is directly south of the White House and a roughly 20-minute walk from the Capitol — and go to the Capitol to try to convince members of Congress to delay a constitutional vote affirming then-President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
Those were not his only directions to the crowd, however. In the same speech, he also used the following phrases while encouraging people to head to the Capitol and protest his election loss, according to the transcript and video of the speech:
- “We will stop the steal.”
- “We will not let them silence your voices.”
- “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
- “We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing.”
- “We’re going to try and give [lawmakers] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
- “We’re going to have to fight much harder.”
- “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
It’s a subjective call as to whether those comments were meant to condone violence and crimes — the opposite of telling people to march “peacefully and patriotically” — on the part of right-wing extremists without explicitly encouraging it.
Next, to investigate the claim that Democrats omitted any reference to Trump’s “peacefully and patriotically” remark during the alleged video displayed on the first day of the impeachment trial, we sought access to the video compilation that Democratic House impeachment managers (a group of nine lawmakers appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) presented in the Senate chamber as part of their opening presentations on Feb. 9, via CSPAN and The Guardian.
Based on our scene-by-scene review of that roughly 13-minute video, Jordan’s allegation in the Facebook post was true: It did not include this authentic quote from the president at Ellipse Park: “peacefully and patriotically make your votes heard today.”
The video montage did, however, include a portion of a video Trump posted to social media during the riot, in which he did not condemn the mob nor back down from his weeks-long misinformation campaign about the 2020 election, but rather told them to “go home in peace.”
Let us note here: As the trial continued into its second day, Democratic impeachment managers did acknowledge Trump’s more peaceable remarks, while attempting to remind viewers of the larger context. On Feb. 10, around 3:30 p.m. (EST) (hours after Meadows’ tweet), Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Pennsylvania and impeachment manager, confirmed that Trump told supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” protest on Jan. 6, and played footage of that moment on the Senate floor.
“One of President Trump’s key defenses focus on what he said for a few seconds, 15 minutes into the speech,” she said, and then played the clip, according to C-SPAN footage. “In a speech spanning almost 11,000 words — yes, we did check — that was the one time, the only time, president Trump used the word ‘peaceful’ or any suggestion of nonviolence.”