Fact check: Minnesota police association covering Chauvin's defense, not Trump

McKenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY
·4 min read

The claim: Trump paid for Chauvin's legal fees

Shortly after the prosecution and defense rested their cases in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, an article was circulating claiming former President Donald Trump picked up Chauvin's legal fees.

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, faced murder and manslaughter charges over the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man. He was unarmed when he died May 25, after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes.

The claim that Trump is paying Chauvin's legal fees originated in an April 17 article from americaslastlineofdefense.com – a satire site – headlined, "Trump Picking Up Officer Chauvin's Legal Fees."

Some social media users shared the article on Facebook as fact, and one user received criticism in the comments for not realizing the story was satire.

In response, the poster responde,d writing, "I did not comment on Trump picking up the tab. I commented that no matter the circumstances they are entitled to representation like anyone else."

Fact check: Fentanyl present in George Floyd's system but not enough to cause his death, experts say

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook users who shared the article for comment.

Article is satire

While the article's thumbnail and headline give the impression of an authentic news report, the story comes from America's Last Line of Defense, a satirical site that publishes fictitious content.

"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," reads the site's "About Us" page.

The story was filed under "Trump-Adjacent Satire." The article claims Trump called the "accusations" against Chauvin a "witch hunt," mocking Trump's comments in 2019 when the House launched an impeachment inquiry against him.

Fact check: Ex-officer involved in George Floyd’s death not pictured at Trump rally

The creator of America's Last Line of Defense, Christopher Blair, previously told USA TODAY that its articles have "zero in common with reality" and they follow one rule, which is "that the piece has to be ridiculous."

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin listens as his defense attorney Eric Nelson gives closing arguments as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill preside Monday, April 19, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin listens as his defense attorney Eric Nelson gives closing arguments as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill preside Monday, April 19, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.

Legal fees paid by Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association

Chauvin's defense is being funded by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, which represents more than 10,000 officers around the state.

Brian Peters, the executive director of the police group, confirmed to KARE-TV 11 that his organization was covering Chauvin's defense.

He said Chauvin is getting the same treatment as any other member and "we can't pick and choose which cases we're going to defend or not defend."

Fact check: Derek Chauvin did not have hand in his pocket while kneeling on George Floyd

All members of the association are entitled to "legal representation in any civil or criminal action brought against him or her arising from any act or omission of the Participant within the scope of his or her employment," KARE reported.

Our rating: Satire

The claim that Trump is paying Chauvin's legal fees is SATIRE, based on our research. The claim originated on a satirical website that publishes fictitious stories. Chauvin's legal fees are being paid by a Minnesota police association's defense fund, which all members of the organization are entitled to.

Our fact-check sources:

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.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Claim of Trump funding Chauvin's defense began as satire