The claim: Speaker Pelosi sent Portland Mayor Wheeler a letter urging him to follow the 'Democratic Play book' and blame Trump for riots
A fake letter circulating on social media purports to show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urging Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler to “stick to the proven Democratic Play book” when responding to protests.
The letter urges Wheeler to follow several steps, including denying there is a problem, showing support on camera for anyone breaking the law, blaming President Donald Trump if order cannot be restored and condemning the president.
The letter, complete with Wheeler’s official mailing address and Pelosi’s signature and seal, concludes, “We CANNOT give TRUMP any victory before the election!”
The letter is dated Aug. 27, the day Pelosi controversially advised then-presidential candidate Joe Biden not to debate Trump during the 2020 presidential campaign.
“Georgia Attorney Lin Wood also has this document posted,” Trump Train News Media told its followers Sunday in a Facebook post, which it later removed. “Read document carefully and notice who it's from.”
Some of the conservative media group’s followers expressed belief that the document was authentic; others questioned whether it was altered.
Close inspection reveals choppy discoloring in parts of the document, which indicate the letter’s body, Pelosi’s seal and her signature seem to have been edited together.
When USA TODAY contacted Trump Train News Media for comment, the page did not respond and deleted the post.
The letter is still visible in a Reddit thread called r/ParlerWatch.
Facebook user Joseph J Wilson Jr posted the letter's text Sunday.
"The letter was sent to me via a message," Wilson told USA TODAY. "I examined it closely before posting it and it does not appear to have been altered and I found no evidence it was from a Pelosi laptop or sent in an email attachment."
Pelosi and Wheeler’s offices confirm letter is fabricated
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, told USA TODAY via email that the letter is fake.
Timothy Becker, a spokesperson for Wheeler’s office, confirmed in an email to USA TODAY that the mayor never received the letter.
Portland has been center of political conflict for Trump
This fabricated letter comes after months of fervent protest in Portland, which many conservatives blame on radical liberal actors. Portland's anti-racism protests centered around police brutality after the death of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis police and the shootings of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
Portland's protests reached several boiling points, where protesters, counterprotesters and police clashed.
Wheeler received criticism from both sides of the aisle for the police's treatment of protesters.
Trump sent federal officers
On June 26, Trump signed an executive order to send federal officers to Portland to prevent damage to government property and monuments. Homeland Security agents soon followed. When violence broke out between protesters and the growing law enforcement presence, Wheeler said he did not invite federal officers to aid the Portland Police Bureau.
“Over the past week, President Trump has used our city as a staging ground to further his political agenda, igniting his base to cause further divisiveness,” Wheeler said July 17 at a news conference. “Mr. President, federal agencies should never be used as your own personal army.”
The next day, Pelosi condemned the Trump administration's use of force and “violent tactics used against protestors in Portland” in a joint statement with Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.
The Trump administration and state officials negotiated federal officers' exit from Portland in late July.
Accusations that left-wing radicals were to blame for the turmoil gained traction after a self-described antifa supporter shot and killed a conservative counterprotester in August. Members of a federal task force fatally shot the shooter a few days later soon after.
In response to the protests and shooting, Trump called Wheeler a “fool for a Mayor” and “weak and pathetic” in several tweets Aug. 30 that urged Portland leaders to call in the National Guard to quell protests.
"I'm going to do the work that I need to do here in my local community with my local officials to take accountability for what's happening on our streets, and I'd appreciate that either the president support us or he stay the hell out of the way," Wheeler responded.
Portland protesters and several civil rights groups called on Wheeler to resign, arguing he did not do enough to prevent violence.
Our rating: False
A letter purporting to show Nancy Pelosi encouraging Ted Wheeler to follow the "Democratic Play book" and blame Trump for protests was fabricated. Pelosi's and Wheeler's offices confirmed that the House speaker didn't send the letter and Portland's mayor didn't receive it. . We rate this claim FALSE because it is not supported by our research.
Our fact-check sources:
Trump Train News Media, Jan. 10, Facebook post
Portland.gov, accessed Jan. 12, "Mayor Ted Wheeler"
USA TODAY, Aug. 27, "Pelosi: 'I don't think there should be any debates' between Biden and Trump"
Reddit, r/ParlerWatch, Jan. 10, "They genuinely think this is real"
Joseph J Wilson Jr, Jan. 10, Facebook post
USA TODAY, Jan. 11, Email from Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff at the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
USA TODAY, Jan. 11, Email from Timothy Becker, spokesperson-public Information officer at the Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler
USA TODAY, Sept. 5, "100 photos to remind you that protests have roiled Portland for 100 days"
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, July 18, "Pelosi, Blumenauer Issue Joint Statement on Trump Administration Actions in Portland"
NPR, July 29, "Federal Law Enforcement Officers To Leave Portland, Ore."
USA TODAY, Sept. 4, "Federal task force kills Portland shooting suspect as investigators moved to arrest him"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Letter from Nancy Pelosi to Portland mayor is fake