Donald Trump’s lawyers will reportedly use claims from the Gateway Pundit in their impeachment defence that allege “anti-Trump” groups were the primary perpetrators of the Capitol insurrection.
Mr Trump’s impeachment brief attempts to argue that the Capitol rioters entered the building “of their own accord” and that some were actually anti-Trump, rather than the pro-Trump mob that has been widely reported and well known pro-Trump figures identified.
The citation for the claim is a Gateway Pundit article alleging a Boogaloo member that aligns with the Black Lives Matter movement was among the rioters at the Capitol on 6 January.
Conspiracy theories alleging that the Capitol rioters were actually Antifa members in disguise circulated in the hours after the attack occurred. Sen. Matt Gaetz, a Trump ally, lied to the Senate just hours after he and his colleagues were evacuated from the chambers, blaming the incursion on Antifa despite having no evidence to back his claim.
The Gateway Pundit is a conservative website that has amplified right-wing conspiracy theories in the past.
Twitter recently suspended the account of Jim Hoft, the website’s founder, for violating its “civic integrity policy”.
The outlet previously published false information suggesting sexual assault allegations had been filed against Robert Mueller in the midst of the Russia investigation. The outlet was also named in Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit for publishing false voter fraud claims.
In the brief, Mr Trump’s lawyers claim that Mr Trump could not have incited the riot because he was too far away from the Capitol at the time. However, Mr Trump’s speech was livestreamed, so it would not have been impossible for participants closer to the Capitol to have heard his instructions to walk to the building.
Mr Trump’s impeachment trial is set to begin on Tuesday, and is expected to last about a week.
The likelihood of Mr Trump being convicted is small, as a majority of Republican Senators have indicated they believe the impeachment trial to be unconstitutional.
So far, no Republican Senators have committed to vote to convict Mr Trump. However, five GOP Senators did vote against their colleagues when Sen. Rand Paul challenged the constitutionality of the proceedings.
GOP Sens. Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey all voted in favour of the proceedings.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also said he would be open to conviction in Mr Trump’s trial.
If the former president is convicted, he could be barred from holding public office ever again.