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Fact check: Biden chooses Harris as running mate; false claims about her eligibility

Update August 11, 2020: Check now reflects that Joe Biden has announced Kamala Harris as his running mate and has been updated throughout. Headline has been updated from “Fact check: Biden has not publicly chosen running mate, Harris eligible” to “Fact check: Biden chooses Harris as running mate; false claims about her eligibility.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden talks with Senator Kamala Harris after the conclusion of the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Some posts on social media claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as running mate for vice president prior to his public announcement on Tuesday, August 11. The posts further claim that if elected and Biden were unable to complete his term in office, Harris would be ineligible to take his post by “constitutional law,” due to her family background, making House Speaker Nancy Pelosi next in line to assume the role. This claim was false prior to his VP announcement, and remains false.

Examples of the claim: here and here .

VP PICK

As of this Check’s initial publication on Aug. 10, 2020, Biden had not made his pick for a running mate. He announced Harris as his VP in the afternoon of August 11, 2020.

His search for a vice presidential candidate has drawn intense scrutiny, in part because he would be the oldest president in U.S. history at 78 on Inauguration Day. He had vowed to choose a woman as running mate.

According to people familiar with the process that is expected to wrap up this month, contenders under final consideration included Harris, former National Security advisor Susan Rice, Representative Val Demings, Representative Karen Bass, as well as Senators Tammy Duckworth and Elizabeth Warren ( here ). Other possibilities are New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

At the time these Facebook posts began to surface, it was false that Biden has already publicly chosen Harris as his vice presidential pick.

SUCCESSION ELIGIBILITY

According to the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section I, Clause 6, in case of the removal of the president from office, whether due to death, resignation, or inability to complete the term, the vice president will assume the role ( constitutionus.com/ ).

On July 18, 1947, President Harry Truman signed the Presidential Succession Act, declaring that if the vice president were also removed, the next official in line to assume the responsibilities of the presidency would be the speaker of the House, followed by the Senate president pro tempore ( here ).

It is therefore true that the speaker of the House, at present Nancy Pelosi, would succeed Biden’s vice president in the case of removal.

The constitutional eligibility requirements to become vice president are the same as the eligibility requirements to become president: a person must be a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35 years old, and a U.S. resident for at least 14 years. ( bit.ly/3abexmc ).

Harris fulfills all these requirements, despite the fact both of her parents were born outside of the country. ( here ; here ).

It is therefore false that Harris would be constitutionally ineligible to succeed Biden.

VERDICT

False. Harris would be eligible to succeed Biden as President, were he elected and become unable to finish his term.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here

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