Fact check: Marine Corps didn't rebuff Pelosi's request for inauguration security
Posted January 18, 2021 3:35 p.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2021 4:40 p.m. EST
The Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden is set to have the largest security response of any inauguration in United States history, with over 20,000 National Guard troops deployed to Washington to guard against threats of violence.
An article circulating online, meanwhile, claims that the head of the Marine Corps rejected a request from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to use the military branch to help safeguard the inauguration, telling her "we don’t work for you."
The Jan. 13 story, published by a website called Real Raw News, quickly began to spread in social media posts. It claims Gen. David H. Berger, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, made the comment and added that the Marines only take orders from President Donald Trump.
This isn’t true. The Marines confirmed the alleged conversation never took place.
The story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.
For its evidence, the story cites a secret Pentagon source. According to the article, after Pelosi requested that Berger commit 5,000 troops for the inauguration, he supposedly told her:
"Don’t lecture me on patriotism, Madam Speaker. I’ve served this country with distinction for 40 years. I’ve spilled blood for our nation. What have you, a self-serving elected official, done for your country? … I answer only to the president, and as I understand it, Donald J. Trump is still president and commander-in-chief. I abide in the Constitution as it was written, not your interpretation of it."
We searched and found zero credible accounts to support such a discussion.
Capt. Casey Littesy, communication strategy and operations officer for the Marine Corps, told PolitiFact that the article is "unequivocally false and inaccurate."
Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Pelosi, called the story’s claims "false and absurd."
Berger, along with the highest-ranking officers in the military, released a joint statement Jan. 12 to all members of the armed forces, condemning the attack on the Capitol and reaffirming that Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president.
"We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection," the memo reads. "As Service Members, we must embody the values and ideals of the Nation. We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law."
We rate the fake story about a general rebuffing a request from Pelosi False.