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AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely asserts Biden was fed questions

July 2, 2020 GMT
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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden listens to a reporter's question as he speaks at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden listens to a reporter's question as he speaks at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has fabricated a complaint that Democratic rival Joe Biden was fed questions at a news conference and read his answers from a teleprompter. This didn’t happen.

TRUMP: “Biden was asked questions at his so-called Press Conference yesterday where he read the answers from a teleprompter. That means he was given the questions, just like Crooked Hillary. Never have seen this before!” — tweet Wednesday.

TRUMP: “He doesn’t know where he is, frankly. I watched his press conference yesterday. He’s answering, he’s answering questions like this from a teleprompter. I said, ‘What’s that all about?’” — interview Wednesday on Fox Business Network.

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TRUMP: “I saw Biden interviewed yesterday. He did his first press conference in, I guess, almost 90 days, and he was reading the answers off a teleprompter. This was for question and answer, and they’d ask him these softball questions. ’How much do you dislike Trump? How much, I mean, really, questions that were terrible and they were, should not have even, I mean, it’s embarrassing. He’s reading answers off a teleprompter. I say I’ve never seen that before.” — interview Wednesday on “America This Week.”

THE FACTS: Biden did not read answers off a teleprompter. Nor did The Associated Press, which asked the first question at the briefing, submit questions in advance.

Biden used a teleprompter to read prepared remarks that took aim at Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, before the questions and answers started, at which point the teleprompter appeared to have been turned off.

His campaign gave him a list of news organizations to call on and he answered questions from reporters on that list as well as some he chose spontaneously. That’s not an uncommon practice when officials give news conferences.

Video footage shows that during nearly 30 minutes of Q&A, which ranged in topics from alleged Russian bounties to the Taliban on U.S. troops in Afghanistan to African American female candidates for the Supreme Court and vice presidency, Biden often looked directly at the reporter, not at the teleprompter. He was not asked about his personal feelings about Trump.

His answers were at times long-winded, without the practiced pauses typically heard in prepared speeches.

Biden campaign national press secretary TJ Ducklo called Trump’s allegation “laughable, ludicrous, and a lie.”

Trump’s accusation reflected his tactic of trying to stir doubts about Biden’s mental acuity.

The president’s reference to Hillary Clinton was based on an episode in the 2016 campaign when Donna Brazile was fired as a contributor to CNN for tipping off the Clinton campaign about debate topics earlier in the year during the primary. Brazile was a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee when she passed along topics and then interim DNC chair when those actions came to light in the fall. She is now a Fox News contributor.

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Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.

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EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

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