'No proof': Fact-check reporter thoroughly debunks Trump defenders’ Jan. 6 indictment claims

'No proof': Fact-check reporter thoroughly debunks Trump defenders’ Jan. 6 indictment claims

In a Washington, D.C. courtroom on Thursday, August 3, former President Donald Trump pleaded "not guilty" when he was arraigned on four federal charges in his third criminal indictment. Special counsel Jack Smith spent months investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, and Trump was indicted two days before the arraignment.

Fox News, Newsmax TV and other MAGA-friendly right-wing media outlets — along with countless Republican politicians — have aggressively defended Trump and echoed the former president's talking points. The New York Times' Linda Qiu, in an article published on August 4, fact-checks some of them.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), on his podcast, attacked Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, the Barack Obama appointee assigned to the case, as "far-left even by D.C. District Court standards" and claimed she is "the only federal judge in Washington, D.C. who has sentenced January 6 defendants to sentences longer than the government requested."

READ MORE: Experts say Trump's lawyer admitted one of the charges in election conspiracy case

But Qiu describes Cruz's comments as "exaggerated," noting, "While she has gained a reputation for handing down tough sentences to people convicted of crimes in the January 6 riot, she is not the only federal judge who has exceeded prosecutors' sentencing recommendations."

Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo claimed that "all of these indictments have been called into question because they come right after massive evidence is released about the Biden family." But Qiu counters, "This lacks evidence," adding, "There is no proof that Mr. Smith, the special counsel overseeing the cases, has deliberately synced his inquiries into Mr. Trump with investigations into the Bidens, one of which is handled by federal prosecutors and others by House Republicans."

On August 2, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) tweeted, "Indicting political opponent candidates during a presidential election is what happens in banana republics and Third World countries."

Qui, however, describes his rhetoric as "exaggerated" and explains, "Mr. Trump is the first former U.S. president to be indicted on criminal charges, but he is not the only presidential candidate to face charges in the United States and certainly not in the world…. Eugene V. Debs, the socialist leader, ran for president behind bars in 1920 after he was indicted on a charge of sedition for opposing American involvement in World War I. He was sentenced in 1918 to 10 years in prison."

READ MORE: Bill Barr's 'ominous' message to Trump

Find Linda Qui's full New York Times article at this link (subscription required).

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