Did Russian President Vladimir Putin tell conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson that "Joe Biden is just a facade for this power structure" in an interview recorded on February 6, 2024? No, that's not true: The transcript of the more than two-hour-long conversation contains no such quote. Additionally, Carlson never asked Putin who runs the United States.
BREAKING: President Vladimir Putin confirms to Tucker Carlson that President Biden is not running the United States.
PUTIN when asked who runs the U.S.
'The same forces which have always run it. You may change presidents but you do not change those in real power. That is who we have to deal with. Joe Biden is just a facade for this power structure.'
This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:
(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri Feb 9 18:02:15 2024 UTC)
Lead Stories searched the transcript of the lengthy interview and could not find the quote attributed to the Russian leader: "The same forces which have always run it. You may change presidents but you do not change those in real power. That is who we have to deal with. Joe Biden is just a facade for this power structure."
An exchange between Carlson and Putin at the 1:30:25 mark in the interview comes closest to answering the purported question. When Carlson effectively asks Putin who runs the United States, the Russian leader gives anything but a clear answer. He makes no definitive statement that Biden is a "facade" for some power structure. Here's what the two men said:
Carlson: You're describing two different systems. You say that the leader acts in the interest of the voters, but you also say these decisions are not made by the leader; they're made by the ruling classes. You've run this country for so long. You've known all these American presidents. What are those power centers in the United States, do you think? Like who actually makes the decisions?
Putin: I don't know. America is a complex country. Conservative on one hand, rapidly changing on the other. It's not easy for us to sort it all out. Who makes decisions in the elections? Is it possible to understand this when each state has its own legislation, each state regulates itself? Someone can be excluded from elections at the state level. It is a two-stage electoral system. It is very difficult for us to understand it. Certainly, there are two parties that are dominant -- the Republicans and the Democrats -- and within this party system, the centers that make decisions that prepare decisions.
A voiceover covers Putin's Russian, but Russian-speaking Lead Stories staff listened to a copy of the interview posted on the Kremlin's YouTube channel without a voiceover. In the exchange with Carlson (at the 1:29:27 mark), Putin's remarks in the original Russian follow the transcript above.
Lead Stories also looked in the English-language transcript for some of the keywords and phrases in the quote attributed to Putin. The word "facade" appears nowhere in the transcript. The full name "Joe Biden" is never uttered by the Russian president; only Carlson says his complete name. Additionally, "power structure" is never said by anyone and neither is "real power."
Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about Russian President Vladimir Putin can be read here.