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Fact check: Meme features false list of nine questions to claim Biden is not president

A meme circulating on social media lists nine “questions to ask someone who thinks Biden is the President”. This image includes six false claims and three allegations that are missing context and are not evidence that Biden’s presidency is invalid.

FILE PHOTO: Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Posts with the image can be seen on Instagram ( here , here  ) and Facebook ( here , here ).

Reuters previously debunked similar claims questioning the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency that stemmed from the QAnon conspiracy theory here .

MILITARY PLANE

The meme asks: “Why was Biden denied a military plane to bring him to DC?”

Ahead of the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration, Biden flew to Washington D.C. on a private jet ( here ).

A CNN report said here   “the government did not offer the Bidens a plane”; the report did not provide further details on the matter.

The White House did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

This is not proof “he (Biden) is not President” and his choice of travel does not mean Biden is not President now (a fact check on this claim by PolitiFact is visible here ).

HAIL TO THE CHIEF

The meme asks: “Why was the typical song for the arrival of POTUS not played for Biden during his inauguration?”

This music was played on inauguration day.

"Hail to the Chief,” the music used to herald the arrival of the president (as explained by the United States Marine Band here   ) can be heard right after Biden took the oath during his inauguration ceremony youtu.be/ZwvbQR887W0?t=17295  and during the Bidens’ arrival to the White House youtu.be/shHh4KAcb_E?t=63 on Jan. 20.

21-GUN SALUTE

The meme says: “Why wasn’t Biden rendered a 21 gun salute as customery (sic) for an incoming President? Know you know, like Trump received the same day, January 20th?” This is false.

While this military tradition ( here ) did not take place immediately after Biden’s oath  ( youtu.be/ZwvbQR887W0?t=17322 ) , as it did in previous inaugurations ( youtu.be/prd2RfhF1tM?t=8407   ,  youtu.be/0UEbEvObgKo?t=2497 ), he received the 21-gun salute later in the day, at Arlington National Cemetery ( here , youtu.be/-jtdQGYLD0k?t=280 ) during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ( here ).

As reported by the New York Times ( here ), before Trump’s last remarks on Jan. 20 at Joint Base Andrews, he was also given a 21-gun salute and a military band played “Hail to the Chief”.

STREAMED IN SPAIN

The meme asks: “Why was Biden’s inauguration streamed as “live” in Spain 10 hours before the scheduled time?”

Reuters found no evidence to support the claim that the U.S. presidential inauguration was streamed ahead of time in Spain.

Spanish fact-checker Maldita.es debunked a similar allegation here , reporting that not one of the main Spanish channels broadcasted Biden’s inauguration prior to its live transmission in the United States.

Reuters previously debunked other claims that the inauguration was “pre-recorded” or “staged” here and here .

HAND ON BIBLE

The meme also asks: “Why did Biden removed his hand from the fake Bible before his oath was finished?”

This is demonstrably false, as visible in the footage from the inauguration ( youtu.be/ZwvbQR887W0?t=17294 , youtu.be/q5iCPKDp4V4?t=496 , youtu.be/oxmk9I3ZIf4?t=52 ). Biden’s hand remains placed on his family bible until after his final words in the oath recitation.

Additional reading on the Biden's family bible, which he used to be sworn-in, can be seen here .

SWORN IN AFTER VICE PRESIDENT

The meme asks: “Why did Biden get sworn in after Kamala, which is not constitutional?”

Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn-in moments before President Biden ( youtu.be/q5iCPKDp4V4?t=51 , youtu.be/q5iCPKDp4V4?t=474 ).

Footage from previous inaugurations show this order is part of the usual protocol (see Trump’s inauguration: youtu.be/prd2RfhF1tM?t=7974 , here and Obama’s inauguration youtu.be/0UEbEvObgKo?t=2177 , youtu.be/0UEbEvObgKo?t=2418 ).

The constitution does not specify the order of the inauguration ceremonies and does not state any details of procedure. As the Joint Congressional Committee of Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC)  here   says, the constitution only states that Congress determines “when the president takes oath of office” and specifies “the oath of office” for the upcoming president.

NATIONAL GUARD TURNED THEIR BACKS

The meme asks: “Why did the military turn their back to Biden when he drove by them, rather than face and salute, which is an absolute requirement for service members?”

As previously fact-checked by Reuters here , this allegation is false: the positioning, with some soldiers facing away from the road, is standard protocol to protect against potential threats. The same was visible during Trump’s motorcade in 2017.

NUCLEAR CODES

The meme also asks: “Why doesn’t Biden seem to have the military launch codes near him? You know, like the ones pictured near Trump in Florida?”

This is false: Biden has had the nuclear launch codes since midday on January 20, when they were handed to him and removed from Donald Trump.

Reuters did not find any footage of the so called “nuclear football”  ( here )  in Florida after Trump left the White House, as the meme claims. It is true however, that Trump took the codes with him, but they only remained in his presence until Biden was sworn in around midday. 

Given that Trump did not attend Biden’s inauguration, the handoff of the “nuclear football” happened differently and involved two sets of satchels and launch codes, explained here by NBC News. Trump’s “nuclear football” would be returned to D.C. by a military aide.

Further explained by the New York Times here , Trump’s set of nuclear launch codes were to be deactivated at noon, while Biden’s would be live as soon as he is sworn in.

PENTAGON BLOCKING ACCESS

The meme ends with: “Why is the pentagon blocking access for members Biden’s administration?”.

Susan Gough, a Department of Defense spokeswoman, told Reuters via email that “the staffing up of the Pentagon continues apace”. As of Jan. 25, the Pentagon had “on-boarded 32 political appointees of the Biden administration” and more are expected in the coming weeks, Gogh added.

It is true however, that there was a halt in cooperation during the transition period. As reported by Reuters here on Dec. 18, 2020, aides to then-President-elect Biden met resistance to their requests for information from some Pentagon officials. Further reporting by Politico can be seen here .

On Jan. 22, the Senate confirmed Biden’s nominee, retired Army General Lloyd Austin as defense secretary ( here ). 

VERDICT

False. Meme includes six falsehoods and three allegations that are missing context and do not prove Biden “is not President”.

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

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