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No truth to claim that cameras shut off in Biden news conference

September 1, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Cameras abruptly shut off during a news conference when President Joe Biden was asked about the recent suicide bombing in Afghanistan and told reporters he gave the attackers a list of the Americans and Afghans still in the country.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. No such incident happened. Biden on Aug. 26 told reporters he couldn’t confirm that any list of names was given to the Taliban, but said it “could very well have happened” in the midst of an evacuation effort. Members of his administration have denied sharing lists of Americans or others with the Taliban.

THE FACTS: A Facebook post that amassed more than 23 million views in two days this week pushes a false narrative of an incident at a Biden news conference on the suicide bombing that killed hundreds in Kabul on Aug. 26.

The post, which appears to be a screenshot from the app Snapchat, includes an image of a man giving a thumbs-up sign. Overlaid on the image are several paragraphs of text telling a story about the alleged incident.

“In a press conference about the bombing a reporter asked Biden if he thought it was a ‘predetermined’ attack and he said ‘no we gave them a list of Americans and Afghans that are still there,’” the post reads. “And then another reporter said ‘so you gave them a hit list?’ And then the cameras shut off and it went black.”

The post claims to share “REAL news” and says the incident “happened literally 30 minutes ago.”

However, a search through Biden’s remarks to reporters since the Aug. 26 attack finds no evidence of such an exchange taking place, nor does it reveal any instance where cameras suddenly cut out mid-briefing.

Biden on Aug. 26 did address claims reported by some news outlets that his administration had given a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to the Taliban in order to grant them access to the Kabul airport. He said he could not confirm a list was given to the Taliban, but that it was plausible this might have happened to allow a bus or a group of people to evacuate.

“I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names,” Biden said, adding a few moments later, “it could very well have happened.”

Biden officials in TV appearances over the weekend denied anonymous reports that the U.S. endangered Americans in Afghanistan by giving a list of names to the Taliban. “The idea that we shared lists of Americans or others with the Taliban is simply wrong,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, adding that “in specific instances when you’re trying to get a bus or a group of people through” they may have needed to provide a list of passengers. Blinken denied putting any American citizens “in further jeopardy” during such evacuation efforts.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was even more resolute in his statement on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, saying, “We have given no list of all of the American SIV holders to the Taliban or any other kind of big list.”

An Islamic State offshoot called ISIS-K, not the Taliban, was responsible for the Aug. 26 attack outside Kabul airport, U.S. officials say.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.