Fact check: Conspiracy theory falsely says Biden arrested in plot to make Trump president
The claim: Joe Biden was arrested and the military met in secret to make Donald Trump president
Eight months after the 2020 election, conspiracy theories about President Joe Biden's victory continue to swirl on social media.
A July 26 Facebook Live video with more than 59,000 views says Biden's days in the White House are numbered.
"MILITARY CALLED AN EMERGENCY MEETING FOR MAKING TRUMP AS A PRESIDENT | BIDEN ARRESTED," reads the title and caption of the video, which was published by a page called Breaking New 247.
Those claims echo the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory , which says former President Donald Trump and the U.S. military are secretly fighting a cabal of satanic, cannibalistic child sex traffickers. According to QAnon supporters , Biden and other top Democrats will be arrested for their crimes on a day of reckoning called "the storm."
Despite what you may have seen on Facebook, the storm is not upon us.
Biden has not been arrested – he's made public appearances since the Facebook video was published. There's no constitutional way for Trump to become president before Biden's term is over. And there's no evidence that the military is working to depose Biden. USA TODAY previously rated false the claim that Trump will be reinstated as president in August.
USA TODAY reached out to Breaking New 247 for comment.
Biden wasn't arrested
The arrest of a U.S. president would make headlines across the world. But no credible news organizations have reported that Biden is in custody.
The Facebook video shows a photo of Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, former Army Corps of Engineers commander, at an April 2020 meeting on building emergency coronavirus hospitals. Overlaid on the photo, a graphic of a rhinoceros runs opposite an unidentified man in a suit.
A voiceover does not offer any evidence to support the claim that Biden has been arrested. In fact, Breaking New 247's post didn't address that claim outside its video's caption and title.
The claim is easily debunked: Biden has made several public appearances over the past couple of days.
On July 26, he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi in the Oval Office, during which he said the U.S. will end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year. That same day, he attended an event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On July 27, he addressed the intelligence community at the Office of the Director for National Intelligence.
Previous QAnon-related predictions, including claims that Biden wasn't actually inaugurated and that Trump would become president in March, haven't panned out. A more recent claim that Trump will be reinstated in August is also baseless.
No evidence military will depose Biden
Since the Electoral College votes have been certified , there is no constitutional way for Trump to become president until Biden's term is over in January 2025. And there's no evidence the U.S. military is secretly conspiring with Trump to overthrow Biden.
After the election, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informally planned with other military leaders to block any attempts by Trump to use the armed forces to overturn the results, according to a recent book authored by Washington Post reporters. While Milley hasn't confirmed that reporting , he has said the military won't be used to broker election-related disputes.
“The military did not, and will not, and should not ever get involved in domestic politics,” Milley said during a July 21 news briefing . “We don’t arbitrate elections. That’s the job of the judiciary and the legislature and the American people. It is not the job of the U.S. military. We stayed out of politics. We’re an apolitical institution.”
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Biden was arrested and the military met in secret to make Trump president. The claim is related to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory. Biden has not been arrested, and there is no constitutional way for Trump to become president before Biden's term is over. Top military leaders have spoken out against using the armed forces to mediate election-related disputes.
Our fact-check sources:
- Breaking New 247, July 26, Facebook post (archived)
- USA TODAY, Feb. 4, What is QAnon? What to know about the baseless, far-right conspiracy theory connected to Marjorie Taylor Greene
- PolitiFact, Aug. 27, 2020, What is QAnon, the baseless conspiracy spilling into US politics?
- USA TODAY, July 23, Fact check: False claim persists online that Trump will be reinstated as president in August
- C-SPAN, July 26, President Biden on Americans with Disabilities Act
- C-SPAN, July 26, President Biden Meets with Iraqi Prime Minister
- USA TODAY, July 26, US to end combat mission in Iraq by end of year, Biden announces in meeting with Iraqi prime minister
- C-SPAN, July 27, President Biden Remarks to the Intelligence Community
- USA TODAY, Jan. 28, Fact check: No basis for claims that President Joe Biden's inauguration was faked
- USA TODAY, March 2, Police bolster security at US Capitol as QAnon theory claims Trump will become president March 4
- Google Reverse Image Search, accessed July 27
- Time magazine, April 8, 2020, Inside the Army Corps of Engineers' Race to Build Emergency Coronavirus Hospitals
- National Archives, April 16, 2020 Electoral College Results
- The Washington Post, July 14, Joint Chiefs chairman feared potential ‘Reichstag moment’ aimed at keeping Trump in power
- U.S. Department of Defense, July 21, Secretary of Defense Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Milley Press Briefing
- The Washington Post, July 21, Pentagon’s top general defends military as ‘apolitical’ after reported comments about Trump
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Conspiracy theory falsely says Biden arrested in plot to make Trump president