The claim: Nancy Pelosi moved billions from Social Security insurance to cover impeachment costs
Shortly after the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump for a second time, a story went viral, claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., diverted billions from Social Security insurance to cover impeachment costs.
The Feb. 14 Facebook post, with over 500 shares, appears as a screenshot of a purported fact check article that is headlined, “FACT CHECK: Yes, Nancy Pelosi Moved Billions from SSI to Cover Impeachment Costs.”
The screenshot is dated Jan. 21 and features an image of Pelosi speaking with reporters. The user captioned the post: “This Money belongs to US the Working, Retired x Disabled American Citizens!! NOW, who’s going to do something!! How can we do something!!
USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.
Fact check: Masks encouraged on federal lands if distancing isn’t possible
Claim originated as satire
The article included in the post comes from a January 2020 story that was published on Freedom Fictions, a satirical fact-checking news site that is a subsidiary of America’s Last Line of Defense.
America’s Last Line of Defense is a satirical network that publishes fictitious stories, according to its website.
“Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined,” Freedom Fictions’ “About Us” page reads. “Any similarities between this site’s pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you’re still having an issue with that satire thing.”
The full version of the satirical article states Pelosi in no way “would be able to pull off such a ridiculous stunt” and that $2.4 billion was “randomly invented to sound large.” The story continues, “we at Freedom Fictions rate this tale true because we are also part of the America’s Last Line of Defense network, and honestly, if this is in the article, and you still can’t tell it’s satire, you need a kick in the balls.”
A bold headline on the top of Freedom Fictions states, “Fake News Fact-checkers fact-checking fake news” along with a bold satire warning. The story is filed under the category, “‘JUNK NEWS’ FACT CHECK.”
Christopher Blair, the creator of America’s Last Line of Defense, previously told USA TODAY that its articles have “zero in common with reality.” False claims that originated as satire on America’s Last Line of Defense have been previously debunked.
Fact check: Posts use 2012 photo of Magic Johnson to falsely claim he donated blood
Not possible for Pelosi to divert money from Social Security
Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, told WUSA9 in 2020 — when the same claim went viral after Trump’s first impeachment trial — that it would be impossible for Pelosi to take money from Social Security funds.
“The law is really clear here that the premiums that we pay into Social Security can only be used for benefits and the administration of the services to provide those benefits,” he said, adding that Social Security bonds are “meticulously managed” and watched by a board of trustees.
Legislative costs of impeachment are taken from the funds that are allocated to Congress for conducting duties, and while the bill for compensating House members and staffers adds up, it’s an “extremely small portion of the overall federal budget,” Yahoo! Finance reported.
USA TODAY reached out to the Social Security Administration for additional comment.
Fact check:There’s no evidence Henry Ford said quote used to critique socialism
Our rating: False
The claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi withdrew billions from the Social Security Administration to cover impeachment costs is FALSE, based on our research. The claim originated from an article that is explicitly labeled as satire and impeachment costs are covered through congressional operations.
Our fact-check sources:
- Freedom Fictions, “FACT CHECK : Yes, Nancy Pelosi Moved Billions from SSI to Cover Impeachment Costs”
- America’s Last Line of Defense, About Us
- USA TODAY, Dec. 15, “Fact check: Fake anti-Christmas quote attributed to Kamala Harris began as satire”
- USA TODAY, Aug. 25, 2020, “Fact check: Viral claim about Nancy Pelosi and overseas military voters is false, came from satire site”
- WUSA9, Nov, 18, 2019, “VERIFY: no, Nancy Pelosi did not divert billions from Social Security to fund Trump’s impeachment hearings
- Yahoo! Finance, Jan. 3, 2020, “This Is How Much of Your Taxes Were Spent On Impeachment Last Year”
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.