Fact Check: Fake Image Of Donald Trump In Police Custody After Guilty Verdict Is AI-Generated

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Fake Image Of Donald Trump In Police Custody After Guilty Verdict Is AI-Generated AI Image

Does an Instagram image that shows police forcibly leading away an angry Donald Trump accurately represent what happened after his May 30, 2024, conviction on 34 felony counts? No, that's not true: This is an AI-generated image that surfaced on social media after a New York City jury found Trump guilty of concealing hush-money payments. A tool for detecting AI-generated content determined that this image was 99.9 percent likely to have been made with AI. Online video footage by reputable news organizations proves that Trump made remarks outside the courthouse after hearing the verdict and walked unimpeded to a waiting motorcade.

The image appeared in a post on Instagram (archived here) by @reallyamericanmedia and @usdemsocialists on May 30, 2024. The post was only captioned:



(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri May 31 14:31:15 2024 UTC)

Lead Stories used Hive Moderation's AI-generated content detection tool for images to test if the image was created by AI. From the input provided, the tool determined there was a 99.9 percent likelihood that it was AI-generated. It further determined, with a high degree of confidence (a .84 score), that the text-to-image program Midjourney produced the image. The results can be seen below:


(Source: Hivemoderation.com screenshot taken on Fri May 31 16:46:25 2024 UTC)

On May 30, 2024, at roughly 5 p.m. EDT, a Manhattan jury unanimously found Trump guilty on all 34 counts of having falsified business records to conceal a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election.

The AI-generated image -- according to Instagram, posted at roughly 5:19 p.m. EDT on the same day, shortly after the Trump verdict -- implies a chaotic scene, with Trump perhaps taken into police custody outside the courthouse. But this is not what happened.

As this C-SPAN video shows (starting at the 40-second mark), after Trump left the courtroom, he spoke to the press outside. He was wearing a solid bright-blue necktie -- not a striped tie as pictured in the AI image.

Twenty-nine seconds into an ABC News video on YouTube that shows a live feed of Trump's departure, Trump can be seen striding from the courthouse building toward the waiting motorcade. Police officers did not restrain him.


(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Fri May 31 16:21:17 2024 UTC)

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about Trump's hush-money trial can be found here. Our fact checks of claims that use AI-generated images can be read here.


  • 2024-05-31T20:23:54Z 2024-05-31T20:23:54Z
    Corrects Instagram posting time

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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