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Photo shows Obama with his brother, not a federal judge

September 10, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Photo shows former President Barack Obama with Judge Emmet Sullivan, the guy holding up Michael Flynn’s dismissal. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo shows Obama with his brother, Malik Obama. 

THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing a photo showing a young Barack Obama with his brother, falsely claiming the former president is standing next to Judge Emmet Sullivan. The posts suggest that the former president has had a long-standing relationship with Sullivan, who is moving forward with a criminal case against Flynn, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump.  

Posts misrepresenting the photo were shared widely across Twitter and Facebook.

The New York Post featured the photo in a story about Malik Obama and his book, “The Big Bad Brother from Kenya” in August. The caption on the photo reads “Barack and Malik in Boston in 1990.” 

Malik Obama is Barack Obama’s half-brother on his father’s side from Kenya. Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii with his American mother. 

During the 2016 presidential election, Malik Obama said he supported Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, his brother’s secretary of state. 

Posts online suggested that when Barack Obama was president, he appointed Sullivan as judge. That is not the case. Three U.S. presidents _ Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton_ appointed Sullivan to judicial positions. He was nominated by Clinton to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 1994. 

Sullivan has refused to dismiss the case against Michael Flynn. Earlier this month, he scheduled a hearing and appointed a retired federal judge to argue against the Justice Department’s position to dismiss. The AP reported in 2017 that Flynn pleaded guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making “false fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI over conversation with Russia’s ambassador. 


 This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

 Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: