Fact Check: Did Trump Family Hold a Capitol Riot Watch Party?

A video purportedly showing President Donald Trump and members of his family and administration celebrating the riot at the Capitol on Wednesday by some of his supporters has spread rapidly online.

The riot left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer, and delayed the final certification of the 2020 presidential election. Trump addressed a crowd of supporters before the riot and urged them to march on the Capitol, suggesting he would join them, though he returned to the White House after his speech.

Democrats and some Republicans have blamed Trump for inciting the riot and called for his removal from office with just 12 days until the end of his term.

The Claim

Many social media users have shared a video from the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., along with the claim that it shows members of the Trump family and administration watching the riot at the Capitol and enjoying it.

The director Judd Apatow shared a tweet of the video which claimed it showed "Trump his family, and more watching the riot at the Capitol." Apatow's tweet and the original were shared more than five thousand times combined.

And the claim made its way onto YouTube. One account called Celebrity Drama uploaded the video with the tagline: "President Donald Trump & FAMILY at a watch party for the attempted coup of the U.S. Capitol building." It was viewed nearly 20,000 times.

Trump, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle can all be easily identified in the video. Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle are dating.

One Twitter user described the scene as the Trumps "gleefully partying from their secure bunker while the rioters they unleashed attack the symbol of our democracy." This description was typical of many others.

Others accused Meadows of being "thrilled" by the event and Trump Jr. of "egging them on streaming his party to social media" amid similar claims.

Scenes from hell https://t.co/lJEPPuKoZK

— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) January 8, 2021

The Facts

Various versions of the video have been shared online but the original is just over four minutes long and is still available on Trump Jr.'s Facebook page. It shows Trump Jr. urging his father's supporters to "fight" and saying they're "sick of the bullsh*t" while music plays in the background.

The evidence indicates that Trump Jr.'s video was recorded before the president's speech to the "Save America" rally on Wednesday and thus well before the riot at the Capitol.

The Trumps are clearly shown in a tent watching live footage of the crowd around the stage where Trump Jr. and the president delivered their remarks. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump was at the White House during the storming of the Capitol, not in a tent or bunker, as some social media users have suggested.

Moreover, the song playing in Trump Jr.'s video is clearly Laura Branigan's 1982 hit "Gloria", which was played at the rally before the president went on stage. A livestream of the event is still available on YouTube and the song can be heard at the 2-hour, 30-minute mark.

At the end of his video, Trump Jr. says: "Alright, guys, we're gonna get this show on the road. Tune in, it's gonna be streaming live everywhere else. Time to get back to work. Love you guys."

The comment is a reference to the speech the president was about to make, which can be viewed on the YouTube livestream shortly after "Gloria" concludes.

Though Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle both encouraged the president's supporters to "fight" in the video, this was said before the march on the Capitol and was most likely referring to the fight against voter fraud in the 2020 election, accusations of which are unsubstantiated and have been rejected by the courts.

Trump began speaking at around noon, according to USA Today, and the first rioters began clashing with police at the Capitol at around 1:10 p.m., after Trump's speech was over.

The Ruling


The video does not show the president, members of his family and White House staff watching the riot at the Capitol or celebrating it. The video was recorded before Trump's speech to the "Save America" rally. Trump spent the duration of the riot at the White House.

Trump Jr. at an RNC Victory Rally
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a Republican National Committee Victory Rally at Dalton Regional Airport January 4, 2021, in Dalton, Georgia. Trump Jr.'s video has been the subject of unfounded accusations about his family celebrating the Capitol riot. Alex Wong/Getty Images

This article was updated with more background context.

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