Fake News: Donald Trump Was NOT Golfing During Al-Baghdadi Raid And There's No Evidence Situation Room Photo Was Staged

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: Donald Trump Was NOT Golfing During Al-Baghdadi Raid And There's No Evidence Situation Room Photo Was Staged

Was President Donald Trump playing on one of his golf courses while U.S. soldiers were carrying out the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? No, that's not true: The claim that the raid happened at 3:30 pm EST on October 26, 2019, when reporters saw the president leaving his Trump National Golf Club is wrong. It began after 5 p.m. EST, when President Trump was in the White House. The person who initially tweeted the claim has since deleted the tweet and acknowledged it was inaccurate. There is no supporting evidence to the claim that a photo showing Trump, Vice President Pence, and his military advisers in the Situation Room was "clearly staged" to cover up Trump's absence.

The claim originated in a tweet that has since been retracted, but a screenshot of the deleted tweet was turned into a meme (archived here) where it was posted on October 27, 2019. The orginal tweet read:

The Baghdadi raid reportedly took place yesterday at 3:30PM EST.
According to yesterday's pool report, Trump and crew didn't leave Trump National Golf Club until 3:30PM EST.

So, As Pete Souza points out, the Trump "war room" photo tweeted by @DanScavino was clearly staged.

A reply to that tweet read:

The motorcade didn't return back to the White House until 4:18 pm -- nearly 50 minutes after the Baghdadi raid started.

Trump was golfing. During the raid. and staged the photo op an hour and a half later.
The motorcade didn't return back to the White House

This is what social media users saw:

Lead Stories rated this claim as false because while it is confirmed that President Trump was playing golf until 3:30 p.m. EST, the raid did not happen until after 5 p.m. EST, when the president was back at the White House. This is how Reuters reported it in an article titled "Timeline: Anatomy of a raid - how the United States took out Baghdadi":

On Saturday, Trump arrived back at the White House at around 4:30 p.m. local time (10:30pm in Syria) after a round of golf in Virginia, according to his official schedule. At around 5 pm, he gathered in the White House Situation Room with Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, and other intelligence officials. They watched the raid unfold live "as if you were watching a movie," said Trump.

The person who initially tweeted that it happened at 3:30 p.m. EST deleted her tweet the next day and posted this tweet to explain:

Yea based on what I am seeing, I think the most likely scenario is that the motorcade rolled up right before launch time. But given conflicting reports, I didn't want to leave my tweet up relying on the 3:30 start time.

The claim that Trump staged a situation room photo to cover up his absence has previously been debunked by Politifact.com in an article titled "No evidence photo of Trump watching Baghdadi raid was staged."

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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