Did Donald Trump “truth”-leak threat at Kevin McCarthy amid arrest reports?

Donald Trump rarely deviates from the principle that an attack is the best form of defense, so recent reports indicating that an indictment in the Stormy Daniels case is likely or even imminent drew a stream of outrage from the former president on his Truth Social platform.

With Trump remaining off Twitter and Facebook even as the social media companies’ bans against him have been lifted, his comments increasingly find their way onto these platforms in the form of screen grabs of Truth Social posts.

That, along with the rather minimalistic layout of the Trump platform’s feed, has made Truth Social—and its users, including Trump himself—an easy target for the disseminating of misinformation, with screen grabs of fake “Trump” posts flooding Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Given how outspoken Trump can be in his social media posts, especially when commenting on his perceived enemies or the “deep state,” it is no surprise that separating the real Trump posts from the hoaxes has not been easy.

President Donald Trump speaks as he is joined by Representative Kevin McCarthy in the White House Rose Garden on January 4, 2019. A fake Truth Social screenshot spread online misleadingly suggests that Trump is blackmailing McCarthy, now the House speaker.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

In the latest example, an image of an alleged Trump “truth” that was circulating on social media has the former president appearing to threaten a release of compromising materials about House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“IF KEVIN MCCARTHY DOESN’T END THESE INVESTIGATIONS IMMEDIATELY, I WILL DIRECT MY SUPPORTERS IN CONGRESS TO VOTE TO END HIS SPEAKERSHIP AND I WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LEAK SOME ‘INTERESTING VIDEOS’ I TOOK OF HIM AT MAR-A-LAGO! END THE WITCH HUNT NOW!” the screen grab post says, in Trump’s trademark all-caps style.

But as Newsweek Misinformation Watch has established, this “post,” along with several others, was not real. It is yet another example of imposter content, where a template of a social media platform (or media outlet’s) layout is used to promote fabricated claims under someone else’s name.

One clear giveaway that the post is fake is the date: March 18, 2022, which would date it to almost nine months before McCarthy was elected speaker. There is also no evidence that Trump had posted this a year later, on March 18, 2023, nor any other dates since McCarthy was confirmed as speaker.

As Newsweek reported on Saturday, McCarthy has directed GOP House committee chairs to launch investigations surrounding a possible indictment of Trump.

There has been a flurry of similar hoax “truths” spreading on Twitter and Reddit in recent days, mirroring the apparent increase in genuine Truth Social activity by the beleaguered former president.

In another similar fabrication, Trump appears to offer to “pay all the legal fees for everyone who protests for me on Tuesday in New York when I am arrested. I mean it this time.” The post was eventually marked as “satire” but not before it was viewed by tens of thousands of users.

The phenomenon of screen grabs that misleadingly attribute Truth Social posts to Trump is not new and emerged almost as soon as the platform went live. One of the more recent examples of such fabrication, debunked by Trump’s representatives, involved supposed attacks against a number of former Trump officials.

But other screen grabs from Truth Social, reshared on Twitter, did indeed come from Trump. Those include a post where Trump rails against the “Soros-backed” Manhattan district attorney who may bring charges against him, calling for Alvin Bragg to be indicted instead. In another post, Trump says that “China, Russia, Iran, North Korea [and others] are “CARVING UP THE WORLD” as America watches.

Truth Social, which has itself been the target of misleading claims, as Newsweek has reported, came under scrutiny last week over allegations that it was used for laundering cash for a bank linked to Russia.

Newsweek has reached out by email to Trump and Truth Social for comment.

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