HomePoliticsA look at what didn't happen this week

A look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the week’s most popular, but completely untrue, stories and images. None of these are legitimate, even though they were widely shared on social media. The Associated Press investigated them.


The judge in Trump’s hush money trial did not stop the campaign finance expert from testifying in his defense

CLAIM: New York Judge Juan M. Merchan did not allow the defense to call campaign finance expert Bradley A. Smith to testify in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial.

THE FACTS: Merchan did not stop Smith from testifying. Trump’s legal team opted not to appeal to him after the judge on Monday declined to broaden the scope of questioning the defense could pursue. The ruling reflected his preliminary ruling on the issue. Social media users misrepresented Merchan’s statement, repeating a statement Trump made that Smith, a law professor and former Republican member of the Federal Election Commission, should not take a position.

“The expert witness we have, the best there is in election law, Brad Smith, is considered the Rolls Royce, or we take it back to an American car, Cadillac, but the best there is,” Trump said on his speech. from the courtroom on Monday. ‘He can’t testify. He is not allowed to testify.”

The former president repeated this falsehood several times in his post-trial comments, claiming that Merchan blocked Smith’s testimony “because he’s going to say we didn’t do anything wrong.” He also posted about it later that night on his social media platform Truth Social, calling Merchan’s decision “election interference.”

Other social media users then echoed Trump’s claim.

“Biden Donor Judge Merchan Won’t Allow Former FEC Commissioner to Testify on Trump’s Behalf for Allegedly Saying Trump Didn’t Violate Any Federal Election Law!” reads an X-post that had received more than 8,600 likes and shares as of Thursday. “This process is totally rigged!”

But Smith was allowed to testify. The defense decided not to call him after Merchan affirmed a pretrial ruling that limited what he could have spoken about. The defense rested its case Tuesday after calling two witnesses to testify: Daniel Sitko, a paralegal who works at the law firm of Trump attorney Todd Blanche, and Robert Costello, a former federal prosecutor in New York.

Merchan said that if called, Smith could provide general background on the FEC — for example, its purpose and the laws it enforces — and provide definitions for terms like “campaign contribution.” He rejected the Trump team’s renewed efforts to have Smith define three terms in federal election law, saying it would violate rules that prevent expert witnesses from interpreting the law. Smith also could not assess whether the former president’s alleged actions violated these laws.

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The judge said that if Smith were to testify, the prosecution would then be allowed to call its own expert, which would result in a “battle of the experts” that would “only serve to confuse and not assist the jury.”

Smith, who was appointed to the FEC by former President Bill Clinton, acknowledged in an X-post on Monday that he did not testify because of a defense decision. He added that he planned to testify about complicated background knowledge needed to understand the case, rather than about the law.

“Judge Merchan limited my testimony so much that the defense decided not to call me,” Smith wrote.


Trump distorts use of ‘deadly force’ language in FBI document for search of Mar-a-Lago

MOVEMENT: The Biden The government authorized the use of “deadly force” against former President Donald Trump during an FBI investigation into his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2022.

THE FACTS: The policy statement on “use of lethal force,” which appeared in an operational order for the search of Mar-a-Lago, is not evidence of a plot to assassinate Trump. It is a Department of Justice policy that should be included as standard in such documents.

“The FBI followed standard protocol in this search, as we do for all search warrants, including a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force,” the agency said in a statement. “No one has ordered additional steps to be taken and there has been no deviation from the standard in this matter.”

As reflected in the operations order, the policy provides in part that Justice Department officials “may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer reasonably believes that the person confronted with such force poses an imminent danger to the public.” means death or life.” serious bodily injury to the officer or to any other person.”

The policy is contained in the Department’s Justice Manual, with only minor differences in wording from what is in the order, and is summarized on the FBI’s website. It is intended to limit the use of deadly force.

Frank Figliuzzi, former deputy director of counterintelligence at the FBI, reiterated in an X-post what the agency said in its statement.

“Yes, every FBI operations order contains a reminder of the FBI’s lethal force policy,” he wrote. ‘Even for a search warrant. Deadly force is always permitted if the requisite threat exists.”

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A motion filed by Trump’s lawyers in his federal case involving classified documents, which was also released Tuesday, alleged that the August 2022 search was unconstitutional and “illegal,” leaving out “merely” the portion of the policy that says “law enforcement officials from the Department of Justice.” Justice can use deadly force if necessary.”

Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago, which was closed for the season, at the time of the search. The Associated Press reported at the time that the FBI had contacted the Secret Service, which provides protection for the former president and his homes, shortly before the warrant was served.

The facts did not stop Trump and his allies from spreading the false accusations.

A fundraising email from the Trump campaign with the subject line: “They were authorized to shoot me!” was sent shortly after he posted about the document on social media and made outrageous claims.

“I almost escaped death,” it says. “You know they just want to do the unthinkable. … Joe Biden was locked and loaded, ready to take me out and put my family in danger.”

Asked whether Trump supports the false claims, campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt wrote in an email: “This is a sickening attempt to provide cover for Joe Biden, the most corrupt president in history and a threat to our democracy.”

Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican, wrote in an X-post that “the Biden DOJ and FBI planned to assassinate President Trump and gave the green light.”

Kari Lake, a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, wrote in her own X-post: “The sick Biden FBI was ready to use lethal force during the Mar-a-Lago BS raid. That tells you everything you need to know about this criminal Biden administrator.”

Trump was accused in June 2023 of illegally retaining classified documents he took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after leaving office in January 2021, and then obstructing administration demands to return them to give. Additional related charges were filed a month later. The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago as part of an investigation that led to the indictment.


An arrest warrant for Netanyahu was requested. But no decision was made yet on whether it would be published

CLAIM: The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

THE FACTS: ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan announced Monday that he is seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders, for actions taken during the war between Israel and Hamas. A three-judge panel will now decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and continue the case. Such decisions usually take two months.

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Social media users have misrepresented the status of the warrants, claiming that they have already been approved by the ICC.

“BREAKING: The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu,” reads an X-post that had received more than 12,100 likes and shares as of Thursday.

Another The ICC is now completely illegitimate.”

But no warrants have been issued.

Khan said Monday he was seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Gallant and three Hamas leaders — Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh — who he says are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel. This means that a three-judge panel will now decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and proceed with the case.

The judges usually take two months to make such decisions. For example, in March 2023, an order was issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin after almost a month of deliberations. Deposed Sudanese autocrat Omar al-Bashir faced his first of two ICC warrants eight months after it was applied for. Neither has been arrested.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, so even if the arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant are not at immediate risk of prosecution, according to the Associated Press. But the threat of arrest could make it difficult for Israeli leaders to travel abroad.

Netanyahu called Khan’s action a “disgrace” and accused the prosecution of anti-Semitism, vowing to continue Israel’s war against Hamas militants. Hamas has also denounced the ICC prosecutor’s request to arrest its leaders, saying it “equates the victim with the executioner.”

The ICC was established in 2002 as the permanent court of last resort to prosecute individuals responsible for the world’s most heinous atrocities: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. The UN General Assembly supported the ICC, but the court is independent. Dozens of countries do not accept the court’s jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide and other crimes. These include Israel, the United States, Russia and China.

Israel is also facing a South African case at the International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest court, accusing Israel of genocide. She denies those accusations.


Find AP Fact Checks here: https://apnews.com/APFactCheck

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