Earlier this month, the Jan. 6 commission in Congress made headlines when it issued a subpoena alleging lawmakers had "credible evidence" that on the day before the Capitol riot former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik attended a meeting at the posh Willard Hotel in Washington where Trump advisers discussed how to overturn the November 2020 election.
The subpoena even cited an impressive source: a book by famed investigative journalist Bob Woodward. You can read that here:
There's just one problem for Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and his investigators.
Kerik was 300 miles away in the New York City area on Jan. 5, 2021, according to his own car's toll booth records reviewed by Just the News. He left Washington the night of Jan. 4 and did not return until the morning of the riots, according to Kerik's own account at a speech this weekend in Chicago.
And that book by Woodward? It makes no claim about Kerik attending a meeting at the Willard on Jan. 5. In fact, the book doesn’t even mention the former NYPD commission once in its 482 pages.
Woodward and his coauthor, fellow Washington Post journalist Robert Costa, confirmed to Just the News in a statement Monday night that they did not allege Kerik attended a Jan. 5 meeting at the Willard.
"The subpoena for Mr. Kerik references page 234 of our book, 'Peril,'" the Post journalists said. "That page, however, does not mention Mr. Kerik in any way. In fact, he is not mentioned anywhere in our book."
Their book does recount such a meeting with other Trump figures, including lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman and former White House adviser Steve Bannon. But Kerik is never mentioned as an attendee.
Spokespersons for Thompson and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is playing an outside role in the Jan. 6 probe, did not return phone or email messages Monday seeking comment.
The Jan. 5 allegation against Kerik in the subpoena is just the latest in a long line of examples dating to the now-debunked Russia collusion probe of how fiction or uncorroborated allegations can become fact in a hyperpartisan Washington where Democratic investigators and news media keep close ties.
Just this month, The Washington Post issued corrections and appended messages to several stories calling into question its original reporting on the Steele dossier, which drove large parts of an FBI investigation and a Watergate-sized media pursuit targeting President Trump, only to fizzle with the revelations that most of the allegations were uncorroborated Internet rumor or Russian disinformation.
And the Pentagon inspector general last week debunked another whopper once favored by the establishment media, namely that the Trump Pentagon improperly delayed the deployment of National Guard troops. That report concluded there were no such improper delays, even undercutting the testimony of a National Guard general.
In Kerik's case, Just the News retraced his steps in part through the EZPASS toll-paying transponder in his car. The toll payment records show Kerik traveled north on I-95 from Washington DC the evening of Jan. 4, hitting a toll in Delaware around 7:13 p.m. and exiting the last exit on the New Jersey Turnpike in the Jersey suburbs near New York City, where Kerik lives, around 8:36 p.m. that night.
The next day, when Kerik was alleged to be at the Willard, the toll records show he was, in fact, in New York City, crossing the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan twice between 5:39 a.m. and 2:24 pm.
The toll records then show he began a late night track down the New Jersey Turnpike back to Washington D.C., passing through a toll at the southernmost part of the turnpike at 11:46 p.m. on Jan. 5, paying another toll in northern Maryland at 11:51 p.m. and then paying the last toll in Maryland near D.C. around 12:40 a.m. on Jan. 6.
The toll records match a story the former NYPD commissioner gave in Chicago this past weekend, when he called out the Jan. 6 commission for erroneously suggesting he had been at the Willard for the controversial meeting the day before the riots.
"The United States Congress puts out a press release and says that I'm going to be investigated, and I'm being subpoenaed, based on a meeting that I attended on Jan. 5 with Steve Bannon, Mayor Giuliani and Dr. Eastman and maybe some other people," Kerik told the audience.
"Honestly, I wasn't at any meetings on Jan 5," Kerik told the crowd, blasting the commission for failing to use its investigative powers to factually check the allegation before making it public. "I was not at a meeting on Jan. 5. [Bennie Thompson] made a false statement.”