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Fact Check-Kamala Harris did not laugh at question about Ukraine and refugees

Social media users are sharing a cropped video of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris appearing to laugh after being asked a question about Ukrainian refugees at a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. However, a look at the wider, unedited clip clearly shows both Harris and Duda laughed briefly at confusion over who should answer a question first between translations.

Examples can be seen (here) and (here) .

The text in one post reads: “WHY IS KAMALA LAUGHING WHEN BEING ASKED ABOUT UKRAINIAN REFUGEES???”

A video of the press conference on March 10, 2022 can be seen on YouTube (here). A transcript can be seen (here).

At the 54:25 mark, NPR White House Correspondent Asma Khalid asks: “I wanted to ask you about some reporting that my colleague here in Poland noticed. He recently spoke with the mayor of the largest border town, who told him that the refugee system is essentially not set up for this, that it will collapse. It’s an improvised system that can work for maybe two weeks, but not indefinitely. And I’m wondering what the United States is going to do more specifically to set up a permanent infrastructure. And relatedly, is the United States willing to make a specific allocation for Ukrainian refugees?”

Khalid then added: “And for President Duda, I wanted to know if you think and if you asked the United States to specifically accept more refugees.”

Harris and Duda looked at each other and laughed briefly about who should answer the question first, as two separate questions were asked to both of them.

Harris then said: “A friend in need is a friend in need.” Duda gestured at himself and began to speak.

When he was done, Harris responded seriously to the question.

At the 1:00:32 mark, she can be heard saying: “So the United States is absolutely prepared to do what we can and what we must to support Poland in terms of the burden that they have taken on that I think all of us who understand the moral obligation we should feel to help people who are fleeing harm and seeking refuge; the burden we should all be prepared to take on to support those people who are fleeing their home when they don’t want to leave.”

It is clear from viewing the longer video in context that Harris and Duda laughed at the awkwardness of not knowing who should speak first. There is no evidence that Harris was laughing at the refugees or the crisis in Ukraine.

Herbie Ziskend, deputy communications director for Harris, said in a tweet (here) : “No surprise: but this is wildly out of context. I was in the room. The @VP and President were laughing about who would speak first amidst simultaneous translations - they were certainly not laughing about refugees.”

VERDICT

Missing context. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris laughed briefly with Polish President Andrzej Duda at a live press conference when neither knew who should speak first.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .         

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