Fact Check: VP Kamala Harris Did NOT Laugh At Question About Ukrainian Refugees -- Awkward Pause With Polish President Was Over Who Should Answer First

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: VP Kamala Harris Did NOT Laugh At Question About Ukrainian Refugees -- Awkward Pause With Polish President Was Over Who Should Answer First Comms Error

Did U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris laugh at a question about Ukrainian refugees at a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw on May 10, 2022? No, that's not true: Harris did laugh following questions about Ukrainian refugees, but she wasn't laughing at them or their plight. The laughter followed an awkward pause as the U.S. vice president and the Polish president, both working through translators, looked at each other, wondering who should answer their question first.

The claim appeared in a post and video on Facebook (archived here) published by conservative political commentator Dan Bongino on July 15, 2023, under the title "Foreign TV Anchor Says What Entire World Is Thinking About Kamala - LOL!" The caption for the post says:

This will never get old. Kamala never recovered from this.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Kamala FB video.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jul 19 14:18:40 2023 UTC)

Another conservative political commentator, Benny Johnson, shared a longer version of the same clip to his Twitter account (archived here) on March 16, 2022, under the caption "Foreign Press END Kamala: 'The CACKLING NINCOMPOOP a heartbeat away from the Presidency.'" The entire news conference appears below:

Both clips showing Harris came from the news and commentary show "Outsiders" on Sky News Australia. In each video, host Rita Panahi called Harris' part in the press briefing a "wretched performance," before opining that her "embarrassing performance was prompted by a serious question about the unfolding refugee crisis" in Ukraine. The two videos take her response out of context, making it appear that she was laughing about the refugee situation.

Why did they laugh?

The awkward moment portrayed in the posts on Facebook and Twitter takes place about 55 minutes into the news conference after NPR reporter Asma Khalid asked questions of Harris and Duda about Ukrainian refugees. In the full-length, uncropped version of the press briefing, you can see the two politicians look at each other and nervously laugh. After a few seconds, Duda points to himself and says, "I'll go first." Harris points back at him as if to say, "Go ahead."

It wasn't the first time the two experienced an uncomfortable handoff following a reporter's question. Five minutes earlier, at 50 minutes into the news conference, Harris and Duda again looked at each other and laughed before deciding who should talk first. The White House transcript of the exchange appears below:


PRESIDENT DUDA: (Points to himself.)

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: You go this time, please. (Laughs.)

Q (Inaudible) I will start with Madam Vice President.


PRESIDENT DUDA: (Points to Vice President Harris.)

Q Thank you. I appreciate that. (Laughter.)

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims related to Kamala Harris can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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