A look at what didn’t happen last week


Associated Press

This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

No restitution order against Obama

WASHINGTON

An online story falsely claims that the U.S. Supreme Court denied former President Barack Obama’s appeal of an alleged $400 million restitution order.

The Associated Press previously debunked a similar false story that claimed Obama has been ordered to pay the “restitution” to the United States for money supposedly lost in a transaction with “hard-liners” in Iran. That story said three judges at a West Texas Federal Appeals Court for the 33rd District ordered the payment. There is no such court, and an account on the Daily World Update satire site gave names for people who are not federal judges anywhere.

The website Conservative Nation has a story alleging that the case advanced to the highest court in the land and that Obama lost. It gives the fictitious lower court a slightly different name, the West Texas Federal Probate Court. It names yet another person who is not on the federal bench and quotes a fictitious opinion from him.

The federal government did make a $400 million payment in 2016 to help settle a claim involving military equipment that Iran paid for in the late 1970s. The equipment was never delivered because the Iranian government was overthrown and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran ruptured. Under a 1981 agreement involving a commission at The Hague, the countries agreed to pay claims for property and assets held by the other. Iran paid more than $2.5 billion to U.S. businesses and citizens to resolve claims.

No deputies slain on way to Clinton library

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

An online story falsely claimed two deputies were killed in Arkansas on their way to the Clinton Presidential Library to deliver a search warrant.

The story on the americacomefirst site alleged the deputies were investigators for Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and that as a result of their deaths, Gowdy was holed up in his office with protection from the U.S. Marshals Service. The piece also claimed Gowdy made a statement alleging a mole on one of his congressional committees leaked the deputies’ travel plans.

“This story is 100 percent false,” Amanda Gonzalez, Gowdy’s communications director, said in an email.

Rather than staying indoors on Capitol Hill, Gowdy has appeared live on the sets of national news shows in Washington and New York and toured South Carolina last week to promote a book he wrote with fellow South Carolina lawmaker U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

None of the nearly 200 statements, press releases and interviews chronicled on Gowdy’s official U.S. House member website contains comments on the topic the false story claimed he addressed.

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