Does a list of questions about Joe Biden's inauguration contain only accurate and factual statements? No, that's not true: The rhetorical questions, posed to imply that Biden is not really president, are a mix of myths, falsehoods and statements that are missing crucial context. Among them are claims that Biden took the oath of office using a "fake" Bible, that the president must be sworn in before the vice president and that members of the military turned their backs on Biden. Those allegations are verifiably false.
The list of questions appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on January 22, 2021. It opened:
Questions to ask someone who thinks Biden is the President:
- Why was Biden denied a military plane to bring him to DC?
- Why was the typical song for the arrival of POTUS not played for Biden during his inauguration?
- Why wasn't Biden rendered a 21 gun salute as costumery for an incoming President? You know, like trump received the same day, January 20th?
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jan 25 16:29:24 2021 UTC)
The questions continued:
- Why was Biden's inauguration streamed as 'live' in Spain 10 hours before the scheduled time?
- Why did Biden remove his hand from the fake Bible before his oath was finished?
- Why did Biden get sworn in after Kamala, which is not constitutional?
- Why did military turn their backs to Biden when he drove by them, rather than face and salute, which is an absolute requirement for service members?
- Why doesn't Biden seem to have the military launch codes near him? You know, like the ones pictured near Trump in Florida?
- Why is the pentagon blocking access for members of Biden's administration?
We'll consider the questions in the order they were asked.
#1. "Why was Biden denied a military plane to bring him to DC?"
It's true that Biden flew to the inauguration on a private aircraft. It's also true that such an arrival is unusual.
Typically, the outgoing administration provides a government plane for the president-elect for inauguration. It's unclear whether Donald Trump, who did not acknowledge Biden's victory until well after the election, ever offered such a plane. A source familiar with the matter told CNN that the government did not. A second source declined to comment.
Biden had originally planned to travel to the inauguration via an Amtrak train. That plan was scrapped because of security concerns.
#2. "Why was the typical song for the arrival of POTUS not played for Biden during his inauguration?"
Although the post does not specify what song it is talking about, a good guess might be "Hail to the Chief," which is often played for presidents at formal occasions.
A military band played "Hail to the Chief" for Biden and his wife at the White House on Inauguration Day. You can watch their arrival and listen to the song below.
BREAKING: Joe Biden, the 46th president of the United States, has arrived at the White House. https://t.co/qjeUynJUdz #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/PJ7eBqyJU3-- ABC News (@ABC) January 20, 2021
#3. "Why wasn't Biden rendered a 21 gun salute as costumery for an incoming President? You know, like trump received the same day, January 20th?"
Biden's presidency was trumpeted by a 21-gun salute at Arlington National Cemetery, which he visited the day of his inauguration. You can watch a video of that salute here.
#4 "Why was Biden's inauguration streamed as 'live' in Spain 10 hours before the scheduled time?"
There's no evidence that happened. The post offered no proof and the allegation -- even just on its face -- is absurd. The inauguration was covered by countless news outlets. Everyone from Biden to famous artists and former presidents attended. There's no question the inauguration took place -- live -- in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021.
#5. "Why did Biden remove his hand from the fake Bible before his oath was finished?"
Biden did not use a "fake" Bible when he took his oath of office. As Lead Stories has reported previously, he used a Bible that has been in his family for 128 years.
Furthermore, video from the ceremony does not show that he removed his hand before the oath was finished. His hand remained on the Bible. You can watch the relevant clip here.
#6. "Why did Biden get sworn in after Kamala, which is not constitutional?"
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says the president must be sworn in before the vice president.
Indeed, Harris took the oath of office before Biden, just like former Vice President Mike Pence took the oath ahead of Trump during the 2017 inauguration. You can watch a video of that ceremony below. Pence is sworn in around the 25-minute mark; Trump takes the oath roughly seven minutes later.
#7. "Why did military turn their backs to Biden when he drove by them, rather than face and salute, which is an absolute requirement for service members?"
This claim has also already been covered by Lead Stories. See our story here. The sum of that article is that National Guard members did not turn their backs to Biden; they were -- rather -- keeping watch.
We reached out to the National Guard Press Desk via email. The reply explained that this is routine protocol for this type of duty.
These National Guardsmen were on duty with a mission to protect the president against potential threats. Some are facing out to ensure the safety of all.
#8. "Why doesn't Biden seem to have the military launch codes near him? You know, like the ones pictured near Trump in Florida?"
The short answer is that Biden does have the nuclear launch codes near him now.
The long answer is that because Trump did not attend his successor's inauguration, there had to be a somewhat delicate coordination of the traditional handoff. As The New York Times and others reported, there were two nuclear footballs and two sets of launch codes the morning of the inauguration. Trump's codes were scheduled to go dead and Biden's codes were set to go live as soon as he took the oath of office. There's no reason to believe the handoff didn't happen exactly as planned. In fact, there's video of one of the nuclear footballs being moved through the halls of the U.S. Capitol the morning of Biden's inauguration. That video can be seen here.
#9. "Why is the pentagon blocking access for members of Biden's administration?"
Before Biden took office, there were multiple reports of the Pentagon blocking members of his transition team from receiving full briefings, on the orders of Trump political appointees. The move was decried and described as unprecedented. That's true -- but the post implied that the obstruction is ongoing and supplied no evidence that's true. Vice President Harris announced via Facebook on January 25, 2021 that she gave the ceremonial oath of office to Lloyd J. Austin III, whose nomination was approved by the U.S. Senate on a 93-2 vote January 22, 2021.