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Fact Check: Video of Trump family was taken before rally, not during riot as posted

McKenzie Sadeghi
USA Today
President Donald Trump encourages protesters to “walk down to the Capitol” where lawmakers were set to confirm Joe Biden as president Jan. 6 before a group of rioters breached the U.S. Capitol.

After the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that left five dead, a video went viral on social media showing President Donald Trump, family members and others celebrating in a white tent.

The video, taken by Donald Trump Jr., according to CNBC, has been posted to Facebook by the page Fire Trump 2020 alongside the claim that the Trump family was “enjoying” the assault on the Capitol while it took place.

The video was also posted to You-Tube by Celebrity Drama on Jan. 7 with the title “President Donald Trump & FAMILY at a watch party for the attempted coup of the U.S. Capitol building.”

In a message to USA TODAY, James Hamilton of San Antonio, who runs the Facebook page, said he received the video from a Trump supporter who claimed it was taken during the riot. He said he had also interviewed others who said the videowas taken prior to the riot so “the timing of the video is in question.”

USA TODAY reached out to Celebrity Drama for comment.

Video was captured before Capitol riot and Trump’s speech

Shortly before the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, the president delivered comments at a rally at the Ellipse, urging his supporters to walk to the the Capitol to “cheer on” congressmen whowere about to certify the Electoral College results.

In the clip, the Trump family is seen laughing, dancing and joking while watching monitors. The viral video was taken before Trump’s speech; the monitors show the crowd waiting in front of the stage at Freedom Plaza for Trump to come out.

The screens shown in the video do not show any rioters storming the Capitol nor any violence.

Also playing in the background of the viral clip is the 1982 song “Gloria” by Laura Branigan, which Trump frequently plays ahead of rallies. A YouTube video of the entire speech reveals that “Gloria” was played at the “Save America Rally” before Trump took the stage, further indicating that the video was taken before his supporters stormed the Capitol.

Near the video’s end, Donald Trump Jr. says, “T-minus a couple of seconds here,” referencing the time left until Trump takes the stage.

Yahoo! News also reported that the video was taken right before Trump spoke at the rally. “The president, Ivanka and Eric can be seen watching the monitors closely a short while

before the violence broke out,” Yahoo News reported.

Trump was at the White House during riot

The “Save America Rally” started at 11 a.m., and Trump began speaking at around 11:50 p.m., according to a timeline of the events from USA TODAY. Rioters began grappling with police at the Capitol at 1:10 p.m.

As rioters stormed the Capitol, Trump was not watching from a nearby tent, as claimed, but rather, spent the afternoon in his private dining room at the Oval Officewatching the riot on television, according to The Associated Press.

He then posted a video to Twitter from the White House calling for peace but continued to promote false claims about the 2020 election, resulting in a temporary suspension of his Twitter account, which became a permanent ban days later.

Our rating: False

The claim that President Donald Trump and members of his family celebrated amid the Capitol riot is FALSE, based on our research. The monitors seen in the video and the song playing in the background indicate that the video was recorded before Trump’s speech. Reporting from events of the day found the president was at the White House during the riot.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.