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Pelosi details year-end $900B virus relief bill
After months of Washington gridlock, Congress is set to act on a $900 billion pandemic relief package. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said it includes direct payments to individuals and a boost to the Payment Protection Program. (Dec. 21)
The claim: Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi were arrested
Users on social media are promoting a baseless claim tied to QAnon conspiracy theorists that alleges two prominent members of Congress were recently arrested.
At QAnon’s core is the prediction that “The Storm” will soon take place, the theory that an alleged mass arrest of high-profile Democrats and celebrities will be carried out while President Donald Trump secretly saves the world from a satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals. The conspiracy theory has grown into a movement that is promoted by right-wing extremists. Its devoted followers perpetuate other theories through the internet that they suggest are somehow related to the main premise.
Contributing to the longstanding conspiracy theory are social media posts that claim House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was arrested by the FBI at Los Angeles International Airport and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “intercepted by US Marshalls and arrested” after leaving the Capitol.
Both claims are false.
“Adam Schiff was taken from LAX international airport to the Los Angeles FBI building and has no exited since going in a little after 10:00 a.m. this morning, my FBI source is telling me,” reads a screenshot of a tweet shared by the Facebook page Millennial Conservative. The tweet was dated Dec. 24.
“Lastnight when Pelosi left Congress she was intercepted by US Marshall’s (sic) and arrested. Merry Christmas!” reads a Christmas Day post from Twitter, shared on Facebook.
Another post, asking for facts in the situation, by former Republican congressional candidate Mike Detmer calls Schiff’s arrest “a Christmas miracle.”
Detmer, who lost in Michigan’s Republican primary for its 8th Congressional District seat, told USA TODAY via email that he is not claiming the arrest is true and is “looking for truth.” He referenced a tweet from QAnon supporting attorney Lin Wood and another tweet from someone who claims to be an eyewitness of the arrest.
USA TODAY reached out to the other social media users who posted about the claims for comment.
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Claims trace back to fake arrest site
The claims appear to have originated from Twitter user Melanias Rhonda, who tweeted on Dec. 24 that she witnessed Schiff being escorted out of a terminal by airport police.
As alleged evidence of the arrest, Rhonda shared a link from an unofficial site named lacountyarrestrecords.org that proclaims to show “arrest records in LA.”
The website displays fake arrest records of Pelosi and Schiff, along with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and many other politicians. A disclaimer at the bottom of the site states that none of the information is official. The site requires a monthly fee to access any information.
“This website is not affiliated with the U.S. Government or any State or Federal government agency and is not an official source of information. This is a private site,” the disclaimer reads. “Information found on this site must be used for lawfully acceptable purposes only. It is against the law to stalk or harass anyone using the information found on this site. Visitors cannot search for public officials, minors, or celebrities.”
The Los Angeles Police Department does not appear to have any sort of official online database that shows a list of recent arrest records and incidents.
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No evidence of arrests
There is no evidence, or any media reports, that Pelosi or Schiff were arrested.
Shortly after being contacted by USA TODAY on the allegations, the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association took to Twitter to clarify that there is no record of Schiff being arrested by Los Angeles airport police or LAPD.
A Los Angeles International Airport spokesperson told USA TODAY on Dec. 26 that the airport has no reports of Schiff’s arrest. A spokesperson for Schiff also confirmed to USA TODAY that the claim that he was arrested is false.
On Dec. 25, Schiff shared a screenshot on Twitter of his Christmas Zoom call celebration with his family where he appears to be at home.
Datelines from Pelosi’s press statements further indicate that she was in San Francisco for the holidays starting Dec. 22 and was not in Washington, D.C., where users claim the arrest took place.
USA TODAY reached out to Pelosi’s office, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service for comment on the claims.
False QAnon claims that Dr. Anthony Fauci was arrested, as well as false allegations that well-known politicians and celebrities were on house arrest for child sex trafficking have been previously debunked by USA TODAY.
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Our rating: False
The claim that Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff were arrested is FALSE, based on our research. The claims originate from an unofficial site that shows fake arrest records of politicians and celebrities. There is no evidence that there were any arrests.
Our fact-check sources:
- @MelaniasRhonda, Dec. 24, Tweet
- USA TODAY phone call with Los Angeles International Airport spokeswoman
- Adam Schiff, Dec. 25, Tweet
- Nancy Pelosi, Dec. 24, Tweet
- Nancy Pelosi, Dec. 25, Tweet
- USA TODAY, Sept. 22, Fact check: False claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci arrested uses doctored and out of context photos
- USA TODAY, June 18, Fact check: Ellen, Oprah, many others are not under house arrest for child sex trafficking
- Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, Dec. 26, Tweet
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