Trump's Facebook Appeal Called Oath Keepers Parasites, Separated Them From 'Genuine' Supporters

In appealing for him to be allowed back on Facebook, former President Donald Trump's team sought to distance the former president from the Capitol riot and separate his "genuine" supporters from members of the militia group, the Oath Keepers.

Facebook suspended Trump indefinitely following the January 6 riot at the Capitol after he put out statements of support for those who went to the Capitol. Facebook charged Trump with using the platform to incite violent insurrection, an accusation his defenders staunchly denied in appealing the decision to ban the former president.

The American Center for Law and Justice and a page administrator, who filed the appeal on behalf of Trump, called it "stunningly clear" that Trump's speech that morning didn't constitute a "call to insurrection" or an "incitement to violence. It added that there was a "total absence of any serious linkage between the Trump speech and the Capitol building incursion."

Media Bias Fact Check rates the American Center for Law and Justice "as a borderline extreme right wing source that is mixed in factual reporting due to use of poor sources and a mixed fact check record."

Hundreds of people have been charged for their alleged role in the Capitol riot that left five people dead. Several have explained their behavior as being done under Trump's influence and prosecutors are going after various groups, such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, for allegedly preparing for the attack.

donald trump facebook ban
Facebook's Oversight Board upheld an indefinite ban on former President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Trump participates in the final presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at Belmont University on October 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Members of the Oath Keepers were seen marching toward the Capitol in a line with a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. Prosecutors have used the formation, known as a "stack," along with the gear they were wearing and the group's communications to bring conspiracy charges against them.

Trump's defenders referenced a federal complaint against the Oath Keepers in their appeal of Facebook's decision but rejected there was a connection between Trump and the militia members.

"The Oath Keepers were 'parasitically using the Trump rally and co-opting the issue of the Electoral College debate for their own purposes,'" Trump's appeal said.

The former president's appeal reiterated the belief that "outside forces" were to blame for inciting the violence at the Capitol and that "all genuine Trump supporters were law-abiding."

At the heart of the ban are two of Trump's Facebook posts from January 6. One was a video message, in which he declared the election was "stolen from us" and that it was the first time in history where "they could take it away from all of us."

"These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love in peace. Remember this day forever!" another post said.

Facebook pointed to those posts as evidence that Trump helped fuel the violence, but the writers of his appeal argued it showed he was calling for peace and for law enforcement to be respected and therefore couldn't be held responsible for others' actions.

"It is 'inconceivable that either of those two posts can be viewed as a threat to public safety, or an incitement to violence," the appeal said.

Since his appeal writers said Trump didn't pose a threat to public safety, they argued the Oversight Board should reverse the suspension because there wasn't a policy violation.

On Wednesday, the Oversight Board sided with Facebook and upheld its ability to suspend the former president for comments he made that "seriously violated" community standards. However, it disagreed that Facebook was right to provide no timeline for when or whether the account would be reinstated and gave the company six months to review its policies and the board's recommendations.

Facebook could unlock the former president's account and reinstate his access, but it seems unlikely it will do so.