Facebook Post Misleads on Bipartisan Capitol Attack Report and Interview
By D'Angelo Gore
Posted on June 10, 2021
On June 8, a bipartisan group of senators released a report on the security and intelligence failures related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The report did not “single out” former President Donald Trump “for inciting … the riots,” as a Facebook post from the advocacy group Occupy Democrats could lead social media users to believe.
Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Gary Peters, as well as Republican Sens. Roy Blunt and Rob Portman, all have previously said that former President Donald Trump was at least partly responsible for the attack by a mob of Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
However, that was not among the conclusions of the bipartisan staff report the four senators released on numerous “security, planning, and response failures” leading up to and on the day of the attack.
The 100-plus page report was the result of a months-long oversight investigation led by Klobuchar, Blunt, Peters and Portman, who are the respective chairpersons and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
In addition to identifying widespread failures that preceded and occurred during the assault on Congress earlier this year, the report also included dozens of recommendations for the Capitol Police, the Department of Defense and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies to address the security lapses so that similar acts do not happen in the future.
What the report did not do — as a June 8 Facebook post from Occupy Democrats may lead readers to believe — is assign blame to Trump.
“BREAKING: Bipartisan group of senators SINGLE OUT TRUMP for inciting the January 6th riots. Arrest this traitor IMMEDIATELY!” reads the text of the post from the liberal advocacy group. The post included a video — now viewed more than 346,000 times — featuring parts of an exclusive, joint interview that Klobuchar, Peters, Portman and Blunt did with CBS News about the investigation and the subsequent report.
At one point in the roughly three-minute clip — which is an edited version of a longer seven-minute segment that aired on “CBS This Morning” — CBS News congressional correspondent Kris Van Cleave asked the senators if the Capitol attack would have happened if not for the pro-Trump “Save America” rally at a park near the White House. At the event, the then-president delivered a falsehood-filled speech about the outcome of the 2020 election.
Klobuchar’s response was: “No. This wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t done all of those things. His false claims of this election is what led to this insurrection.”
As she spoke, Peters can be seen nodding his head in agreement.
But Portman and Blunt are not shown answering the question or making any gestures that indicate whether they concurred with their Democratic colleagues. Instead, in the CBS News video, Portman actually emphasized that the bipartisan investigation didn’t seek to uncover or determine the causes of the attack.
“Our job was not to go back and talk about what happened in terms of the motivation,” he said. “It was about ‘okay, once it happened, you know, what did we do here in the Capitol and how could this have happened, and how can we ensure it never happens again?’”
That portion of the CBS News video is edited out of the clip Occupy Democrats posted to Facebook.
In an email to FactCheck.org, Emily Benivades, communications director for Portman, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the report’s “purview” was limited to the security and intelligence issues only. “Our mandate did not include investigating the motivation behind the attack,” she wrote.
Peters, chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, similarly said the report “is limited in scope” and did not address “what motivated people,” according to news accounts of Peters’ remarks in a call with reporters.
On May 28, Klobuchar, Peters and Portman all voted to advance a House-passed bill that would establish an independent commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol, including the causes. But the bill didn’t receive enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. (Blunt did not cast a vote, but has said he thinks it is “too early” to create such a commission.)
The bipartisan Senate report released June 8 does mention Trump several times. For example, it noted that Trump promoted the rally on social media, and a transcript of his full Jan. 6 speech — in which he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” — also is included as an appendix.
It’s true that Portman and Blunt — who both voted not to convict Trump on the impeachment charge of inciting the Capitol attack — previously have said that the then-president played a part.
In a Jan. 12 statement, Portman said, “Both in his words before the attack on the Capitol and in his actions afterward, President Trump bears some responsibility for what happened on January 6.” And in a Jan. 10 interview, Blunt also said Trump “had some … involvement in” what happened that “tragic day.”
But those comments are old — not “breaking” news, as the Occupy Democrats post said. Nor were the Republican senators’ remarks made in the bipartisan report or the joint interview about its findings.
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. “Klobuchar, Blunt, Peters, Portman Release Bipartisan Report Investigating January 6th Capitol Attack.” Press release. 8 Jun 2021.
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. “Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack: A Review of the Security, Planning and Response Failures on January 6.” Staff report. 8 Jun 2021.
“CBS This Morning.” “Senators release bipartisan report on failures leading up to January 6 riot.” YouTube. 8 Jun 2021.
Kiely, Eugene, et. al. “Trump’s Falsehood-Filled ‘Save America’ Rally.” FactCheck.org. 6 Jan 2021.
Emily Benivades. Communications director, Ranking Member Rob Portman, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Email sent to FactCheck.org. 8 Jun 2021
Turner, Trish and Allison Pecorin. “Security, intelligence failures led to Jan. 6 insurrection: Bipartisan Senate report.” ABC News. 8 Jun 2021.
Shorman, Jonathan, and Bryan Lowry. “Senate report on Capitol attack finds police need basic gear, better sharing of intel.” McClatchyDC. 8 Jun 2021.
Corse, Alexa, and Lindsay Wise. “Capitol Riot Probe by Senate Faults Intelligence, Security Failures in Jan. 6 Breach.” Wall Street Journal. 8 Jun 2021.
U.S. Senate. H.R. 3233, roll call vote 218. 28 May 2021.
“Fox News Sunday.” “Sen. Roy Blunt: ‘Too early’ to create Jan. 6 commission.” Fox News. 23 May 2021.
Jalonick, Mary Clare. “Takeaways: Senate report on ‘absolutely brutal’ Jan. 6 siege.” Associated Press. 8 Jun 2021.
U.S. Senate. H.Res. 24, roll call vote 59. 13 Feb 2021.
“Face the Nation.” Transcript. CBS News. 10 Jan 2021.