Former Vice President Joe Biden has returned to the hoax with which he launched his presidential campaign last April, falsely suggesting President Donald Trump called white supremacists in Charlottesville “very fine people.”
In an ad launched on Twitter Wednesday evening (see below), Biden claims that Trump referred to torch-waving white supremacists and neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” calling the president “poison to our [national] soul.”
Last year, Biden announced his run for the presidency in a YouTube video in which he claimed to be motivated by Trump’s comments on the August 2017 riots in Charlottesville. Biden said:
And that’s when we heard the words of the President of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of this nation. He said there were, quote, some “very fine people on both sides.” Very fine people on both sides? With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate, and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew that the threat to this nation was unlike any I had every seen in my lifetime.
Biden’s claim was untrue. Trump condemned the violence in Charlottesville immediately, including violence by left-wing activists. He also delivered a special televised statement from the White House in which he singled out racists including the “KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.” And at a press conference in Trump Tower, he specifically attacked the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, saying they should be “condemned totally.”
It is that press conference that Biden, and many in the mainstream media, have quoted selectively to make it appear that the president was calling neo-Nazis and white supremacists “very fine people.” Trump was clearly referring to the non-violent protesters on both sides of the issue of the removal of a Confederate statue, which even CNN noted at the time (though later perpetuating the “very fine people” hoax itself). Yet Biden has persistently misquoted him.
In August, Breitbart News confronted Biden at a press event at the Iowa State Fair and asked him specifically why he continued to misquote Trump.
That man is correct, according to CNN's Jake Tapper https://t.co/UDWlABOzYo
— Matt Wolking (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@MattWolking) August 8, 2019
Though Biden denied that he misquoted Trump, he later toned down his claims. Last month, for example, Biden accused Trump of encouraging mass shootings in synagogues — itself an incendiary accusation — but did not repeat the “very fine people” misquote, accusing Trump instead of “moral equivalence.”
Biden’s ad begins with footage from Charlottesville, following by a deceptively edited video of Trump’s remarks:
This election is about the soul of our nation — and Donald Trump is poison to our soul. pic.twitter.com/cwzycLJV0d
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 2, 2020
The video fails to note that Trump also made clear he was not referring to the white supremacists and neo-Nazis:
After being confronted by Breitbart News in August, Biden’s communications team attempted to defend their boss by misquoting Trump again — leaving out the part of Trump’s remarks in which he excluded the extremist groups:
Why did you need to omit this? pic.twitter.com/k26qetCCmu
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 8, 2019
Notably, the Biden campaign used the same misleading quote in August that appears in his January 1, 2020 video.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.