Fact check: Satirical flyer promotes Capitol siege as Stanford law group event

Protesters attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.
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Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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Corrections & clarifications: This story has been updated to clarify that the satirical event flyer was emailed to a law student listserv on Jan. 25.

The claim: The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was an event hosted by the Stanford Federalist Society

A Jan. 25 Facebook claim stated that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building took place during a meeting of the Stanford Federalist Society headlined by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The post features an event flyer for "The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection," scheduled on Jan. 6 from 12:45-2 p.m. According to the flyer, Hawley was invited to argue how "the ends justify the means," while Paxton would explain why "calling on a violent mob to storm the Capitol" is an appropriate response to Congress' refusal to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

The flyer informed Stanford students that "riot information" would be emailed to attendees that morning, an apparent precursor to the siege on the Capitol.

"Come thru! Chik fil a will be served," the post caption states.

USA TODAY reached out to the poster for comment.

More: Fact check: Satirical post claims Biden has labeled Libertarians as terrorists

Flyer is an email hoax

The Stanford Federalist Society is a libertarian and conservative student group at Stanford Law School. The group promotes "the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of powers is central to our constitutional order" and the interpretation of law within the province of the judiciary, according to its website.

The society hosts various panels with conservative law professors and circuit court judges as guest speakers.

Stephanie Ashe, director of media relations for Stanford Law School, told USA TODAY that the event flyer is not real. A student emailed it to the student-run listserv; it is unknown whether the Facebook user who posted the flyer is a member of that listserv.

"The fictitious poster listed January 6 as the date of the fake event but the student email was sent on January 25, this last Monday. The fictitious poster was NOT emailed to students on January 6," Ashe said.

More: Sen. Josh Hawley has a new publisher after losing book deal in Capitol riot backlash

Hawley is a lawyer and Stanford University graduate, according to his website.

Hawley was one of six Republican senators to object to the election outcome, a controversial move that ultimately failed to overturn President Joe Biden as the decisive winner over former President Donald Trump, according to USA TODAY.

On the morning of the U.S. Capitol siege, he appeared to show solidarity with Trump supporters by greeting them with a raised fist before joining the session, USA TODAY reported.

More: Fact check: False claim of facial recognition of antifa members during U.S. Capitol riot

Paxton is one of three state attorneys general who did not sign letters condemning the insurrection, according to the Texas Tribune. He also claimed liberal activists from anti-facist protest group antifa infiltrated the pro-Trump mob. USA TODAY has debunked a claim that antifa posed as Trump supporters during the attack on the Capitol.

Our ruling: Satire

We rate this claim SATIRE, based on our research. An event flyer advertising a conservative student group event with guest speakers Sen. Josh Hawley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is satirical and was sent to members of a student-run Stanford University listserv, according to the director of media relations for Stanford Law School.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Flyer calling U.S. Capitol riot a Stanford event is satire