Facts matter: Trump indictment was real, not part of a conspiracy

A recent Facebook post claimed the indictment of former President Donald Trump, in the case of keeping and hiding top-secret documents, was all just a show.

The post shows a screenshot from a video Trump posted on Truth Social to claim he is innocent. The post makes a connection to a painting hanging behind the former president in the clip.

"A great lesson in Optics 101: The Monroe Doctrine (picture behind Boss). He hasn't been 'indicted.' It's all part of the Operation," the post read. The post includes part of an explanation of the Monroe Doctrine from the National Archives and then refers to Trump as the "commander in chief" of the military.

But this claim is "false and ridiculous," PolitiFact says. The post was flagged by Facebook as misinformation on its site.

A federal grand jury, earlier this month, indicted Trump on 37 counts of mishandling classified information, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements and representations.

On Tuesday, the former president was arraigned in federal court in Miami, where he entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.

Trump, who is a candidate for president in the 2024 election, is not commander in chief of the Armed Forces. That would be President Joe Biden, who took over that position when he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021.

No photograph of judge at rally

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump in 2020, has been assigned to the federal case against Trump. Recently, there have been claims on social media that Cannon was seen at a rally for the former president wearing a "Team Trump" hat.

"Should be a disqualifier. #JudgeCanon," read one tweet that was shared more than 2,700 times.

But the photo being shared does not include Cannon, according to The Associated Press. The women in the photo have different facial features than Cannon. The image appeared in an article about Cannon but did not identify a person in the photo as her.

The Sept. 6, 2022, article was published on the Slate magazine website under the headline, "The Solution to the Trump Judge Problem Nobody Wants to Talk About." It features a photo of two women wearing Trump hats with red, white and blue stripes painted on their faces.

The photo was taken by Getty Images photographer Spencer Platt during a rally for Trump held in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The caption with the story originally read, "Trump rallygoers, or members of the judiciary? It's hard to say." But the caption was changed recently to just "Trump rallygoers."

No one injured in church fire

A video posted on June 11 shows a church on fire as the burned steeple crashes to the ground. Some social media users claimed a gay wedding was the reason for the destruction.

"Church burned down by a lightening (sic), in Boston, In the USA, during a marriage ceremony of homosexual couple. No survival from the participants. God still in control over Satan's counterfeits and attacks to God's instructions," read a June 11 tweet.

But this claim is wrong on several counts, according to Reuters.

The First Congressional Church in Spencer, Massachusetts, not Boston, was destroyed by fire on June 2. There was no one inside at the time of the fire and there were no injuries.

The all-wood church building, which dates back to the 1800s, was destroyed by fire in 1862 but was rebuilt, Boston 25 News reported.

Canada wildfires not intentionally set

Wildfires across Canada have burned more than 9 million acres and affected the air across the United States. A recent post on social media claims the fires are being intentionally set.

"It was a set up," reads the text on an Instagram post that shows people watching a video of a helicopter dropping fire on an area of forest that is not on fire. "That's how they started the fire. They set it up," says a person watching the clip.

But the fires aren't being deliberately set. USA Today reports that this is an effort to control the fires.

The video in the post shows the British Columbia Wildfire Service conducting a planned ignition at Donnie Creek in British Columbia, Canada. Jean Strong, a spokesperson for the service, told USA Today the burns are an essential part of slowing down and limiting the spread of wildfires.

"When the decision is made to conduct such a burn operation, the wildfire is usually beyond the initial attack stage. The goal is to remove the majority of available fuel ahead of the wildfire so there's less fuel available for the wildfire to burn," she said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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