Pro-Trump group lies about congresswoman's impeachment comments in new ad

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The American Action Network deceptively edited a quote from Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in a new attack ad.

A dark-money group spending millions to attack House Democrats over the impeachment inquiry launched an ad Tuesday blatantly distorting comments made by Democratic Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria.

The ad is part of a group of highly misleading spots being run by the pro-Trump American Action Network (AAN).

Luria, a first term congresswoman from a Virginia Beach-area district, has backed the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, which focuses on his broader efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

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In a September CNN interview, Luria was asked about Democrats' decision to open the inquiry.

"I'll tell you that I didn't come to Washington to impeach the president, but I also didn't spend 20 years in the Navy to allow this to happen, to allow our Constitution to be trampled on," she said. "And I made this decision to come forward this week without a political calculation. It could very well cost me my seat in Congress."

A month later, Luria voted to formalize the rules for the impeachment inquiry process.

But the AAN attack ad selectively uses only the first part of Luria's comments, making it seem like she was opposed to the impeachment inquiry and later flip-flopped.

"Elaine Luria said she didn't go to Washington to impeachment the president," a narrator says, "but voted to launch the investigation anyway."

On the screen, the CNN interview is cited along with the text, "I didn't come to Washington to impeach the president."

The ad also claims that voters are "paying the price" because no legislative progress — including on "job-creating trade deals" — is being made due to the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

The ad dropped hours before House Democrats announced they had reached a deal with the White House to ratify the USMCA trade agreement, which replaces NAFTA. The House and Senate have also reportedly reached a deal to guarantee paid parental leave for millions of federal civilian employees.

This anti-Luria spot was one of eight released by the group on Tuesday. The almost-identical ads attack seven other lawmakers for their support of the impeachment inquiry, part of a $1.5 million expenditure.

At least five of the other spots are also highly misleading. Commercials targeting first-term Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Jared Golden (D-ME), Susie Lee (D-NV), and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) feature quotes from those lawmakers opposing Trump's impeachment.

But all five rely on comments from before a whistleblower report raising concerns about Trump's actions toward Ukraine was made public, and before Trump released a partial transcript of his July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he pressured Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on his political rivals.

AAN did not immediately respond to questions about the ads.

AAN has been caught running dishonest attack ads in the past. Fact-checkers recently criticized the group's earlier anti-impeachment spots, citing them for twisting the words of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The effect of AAN's editing was to "create the false impression that [Ocasio-Cortez] had confirmed the inquiry was aimed at preventing Trump’s reelection," one Washington Post fact-checker noted, though this was "nowhere close to what she said, nor was it what she meant."

In October, the group also ran ads claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill to lower drug prices through bulk negotiation amounted to a "socialist takeover."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.