A video of Joe Biden discussing Donald Trump is being shared alongside claims that the US president is leading efforts to prosecute his predecessor to keep him from returning to the White House. But the remarks were made in 2022 following the midterm elections in response to questions on the 2024 election and have no bearing on the indictment of the Republican leader in New York.
“Biden all but confirmed that his team is coordinating these Trump indictments to “stop Trump from taking power again,” says an April 3, 2023 tweet sharing a video of the president.
The post includes a snippet of Biden’s comments in which he says: “We just have to demonstrate that he will not take power by — if he does run — making sure, under legitimate efforts of our Constitution, does not become our next president again.”
The same clip was shared on Instagram and Facebook, including posts in Spanish, with comments suggesting Biden is responsible for the indictment of Trump, who was charged with campaign finance violations for arranging hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
On April 4, 2023, Trump pleaded “not guilty” to the 34 felony counts filed by the Manhattan Justice in what were the first criminal charges ever filed against a former or current US president.
The clip of Biden is being cited as evidence that Trump’s criminal charges are orchestrated election interference by Democrats, as Trump has denounced the legal proceedings as a “witch hunt” and “political persecution.”
However, these remarks in 2022 are unrelated to Trump’s current legal troubles and were shared out of context.
AFP conducted a reverse image search of screenshots of the video, which found that the footage dates back to November 9, 2022.
In the original video, the US president responds to a reporter’s question about Trump’s plan to run for White House in 2024, asking how Biden would assure world leaders that Trump and his political movement would not return to power.
AFP also conducted a keyword search of Biden’s remarks and found the White House transcript of his speech, which confirms that this press conference was held on November 9 at the White House.
Jurisdiction in Trump case
Josh Chafetz, a law professor at Georgetown University told AFP Trump’s indictment in New York “was produced by a state grand jury, at the request of an elected district attorney. The indictment alleges violations of state law and the trial will be presided over by a state judge.”
In the US, state courts are independent of the federal system, “although federal law (including the Constitution) has supremacy over the law of the states,” as defined in the Constitution, he said.
“President Biden and the White House have nothing to do with it,” he said, “and the only way the federal courts could get involved is if Trump alleges that the indictment violates or preempts federal law.”
Trump can still run in 2024
AFP has previously debunked claims that the charges against Trump in New York would prevent him from participating in the 2024 presidential race. Even if the former president is convicted of a felony, under the US Constitution this would not necessarily disqualify him from running for political office.
Joshua Douglas, a research professor at the University of Kentucky School of Law, told AFP that the Constitution has limited criteria for disqualifying a presidential candidate.
“Whether someone has been prosecuted, convicted, in jail, etc. is not one of those criteria,” he said.
AFP contacted the White House for comment, but a response was not forthcoming.
More of AFP’s reporting on false and misleading claims about Trump’s indictment can be read here and here.