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False Story Furthers Claim About Dem Defectors


Quick Take

A made-up story that claims four Democratic senators are switching their party affiliation because of the impeachment is circulating on Facebook. But the story originated on a site that describes its content as satire.


Full Story

A story that’s racked up thousands of shares on Facebook claims that Jack Layton, Christina Clark, Gordon Campbell and Kareem Jabari are sitting U.S. senators who are leaving the Democratic Party to join Republicans “out of anger with what they say is an ‘illegal action against the President.'” But none of those people are senators.

Layton was the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party before he died in 2011; Clark was the premier of British Columbia from 2011 to 2017; and Campbell was the premier of British Columbia from 2001 to 2011. Kareem Jabari is a made-up character, and the photo used in the story shows Mark Warner, an international trade lawyer who has been active in Canadian politics.

The last senator to change parties while in office was Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who switched from Republican to Democrat in 2009.

The U.S. Constitution gives the power to impeach — or make formal allegations of wrongdoing against the president — to the House of Representatives. After that, the impeachment process moves to the Senate, which holds a trial. If convicted in the Senate, a president can be removed.

Trump was impeached by the Democratled House on Dec. 18 and will now have a trial in the Republicanled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will steer the process, has called the articles of impeachment against Trump “constitutionally incoherent” and said that he anticipates “a largely partisan outcome in the Senate.”

According to CrowdTrangle data, the most popular version of this bogus story was published on a site called Daily News Updates, which is registered to an owner in Pakistan. But it also appears on at least three similarly dubious sites. All of those sites copied the story from a website that belongs to a network called America’s Last Line of Defense, which describes its content as satire aimed at provoking conservatives.

Although this story is made up out of whole cloth, it echoes another recent claim that inflated the impact of Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s decision to leave the Democratic Party this week. The bogus headline, which we wrote about, claimed that a “second Democrat” has left the party “in 24 hours” because of the impeachment inquiry. But it counted a Pennsylvania state senator who left the party a month ago for other reasons.

Van Drew is the only current member of Congress who has announced that he will switch from Democrat to Republican.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Impeachment and the Constitution.” Congressional Research Service. 20 Nov 2019.

4 Democrat Senators Are Turning Republican Because They Oppose Impeachment.” Bustatroll.org. 15 Dec 2019.