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The claim: Meme raises 9 questions about the authenticity of Joe Biden's presidency
Since President Joe Biden took the oath of office on Jan. 20 in a peaceful transition of power, QAnon followers have been grappling with their failed predictions of a political “great awakening.” While some have accepted the new reality, others are looking for evidence to undercut Biden’s presidency and allow QAnon prophecies to prevail.
A viral meme is challenging social media users who recognize Biden as the president to ask themselves a series of questions meant to dispute his presidency.
“Questions to ask someone who thinks Biden is the President,” begins the meme.
Each of the nine questions the meme asks has a rational answer, and they fail to prove Biden’s presidency is illegitimate. USA TODAY has previously fact-checked claims that Biden illegally won the election and is an illegitimate president. None were true.
USA TODAY reached out to several Facebook users that posted the meme and has yet to get a response.
'Why was Biden denied a military plane to bring him to DC?'
Biden decided to fly to Washington for Inauguration Day, rather than take Amtrak as originally planned, because of ongoing threats of far-right extremism that were deemed a security risk.
Throughout his career, Biden’s preference for Amtrak has been a pillar of his public persona. Biden earned the nickname “Amtrak Joe” by spending much of his 36-year Senate career commuting 90 minutes each way between his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and the U.S. Capitol by train each day.
Traditionally, outgoing presidents provide transportation to Washington for the incoming administration. CNN reported on Jan. 19 that the Trump administration did not offer Biden’s team transportation to the capital. His arrival via private plane has nothing to do with the legitimacy of his presidency.
'Why was the typical song for the arrival of POTUS not played for Biden during his inauguration?'
This claim is false. A military band played “Hail to the Chief” when Biden’s family arrived at the White House after the inauguration ceremony.
Not long before, “Hail to the Chief” played for Donald Trump as he took the stage at Joint Base Andrews before he left for Mar-a-Lago with his family.
The song is traditionally played every time the president arrives at a formal occasion. In accordance with tradition, the song is played twice on Inauguration Day: once for the outgoing president and once for the incoming president.
'Why wasn’t Biden rendered a 21 gun salute as costumery for an incoming President? You know, like trump received the same day, January 20th?'
This claim is false. Biden received a 21-gun salute when he arrived at Arlington National Cemetery after the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump was also given a 21-gun salute before addressing a crowd and boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews.
'Why was Biden’s inauguration streamed as 'live' in Spain 10 hours before the scheduled time?'
This is false. In a previous fact check USA TODAY found there was no evidence to support the claim that a video of Biden’s inauguration aired in Spain hours before it occurred.
Conspiracy theorist Charlie Ward claimed without evidence that he received a recording of the inauguration 10 hours early in a Jan. 21 YouTube video. YouTube later removed the video for violating community standards.
'Why did Biden remove his hand from the fake Bible before his oath was finished?'
This is false. C-SPAN footage of the inauguration ceremony shows Biden did not remove his hand from the Bible until he completed the oath of office.
The president took the oath on a massive Bible that has been in his family since 1893. Biden was sworn in on the same Bible twice as vice president and seven times as a senator.
'Why did Biden get sworn in after Kamala, which is not constitutional?'
This is false.
Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in before the president, as is customary, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. The Constitution does not stipulate in what order the presidential and vice presidential oaths of office should follow, making this claim also false.
'Why did military turn their backs to Biden when he dove by them, rather than face and salute, which is an absolute requirement for service members?'
USA TODAY fact-checked claims that National Guard members had turned their back in dissent to Biden's motorcade after a video of troops on Jan. 20 went viral. We found that guard members had turned their backs to protect the president from external threats as he arrived at the Capitol. A National Guard spokesperson confirmed the action was protocol and not an expression of disapproval as critics had widely misconstrued it be.
'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 also false. Biden does have the nuclear launch codes.
Trump’s decision not to attend Biden’s inauguration, the first president to do so in more than 150 years, broke traditions in many ways and created logistical abnormalities. One such dilemma was the hand off of the military “football,” which contains the nuclear codes.
On Jan. 20, when Trump left Washington for Mar-a-Lago, he was still president and so the football traveled with him. However, it was deactivated at noon, when Biden became president.
A military aide accompanied Trump to Florida, while another military aide handed Biden a second football, which was then activated when Biden took office at noon, according to NBC News.
'Why is the pentagon blocking access for members of Biden’s administration?'
While some leaders at the Pentagon did temporarily withhold information from the Biden transition team, Reuters reported Jan. 26 that the resistance has stopped.
Department of Defense spokeswoman Susan Gough told Reuters that the Pentagon was moving ahead with the transition and had on-boarded 32 Biden administration appointees by Jan. 25.
Politico reported Jan. 20 that Trump administration Pentagon appointees had obstructed the transition team’s request for information regarding special operations missions and vaccine distribution. Politico described the hindrance as “unprecedented in modern presidential transitions” and predicted that it would “hobble the new administration on key national security matters.”
Our ruling: False
We rate a viral meme, which lists a series of questions those who accept Joe Biden's presidency should ask themselves, as FALSE because the questions are all based on false claims, conspiracy theories or outdated information. Biden is legally the president of the United States.
Our fact-check sources:
Lori M. See-Smith, Jan. 22, Facebook Post
USA TODAY, Jan. 28, "Fact check: No basis for claims that President Joe Biden's inauguration was faked"
USA TODAY, Jan. 14, "President-elect Joe Biden to skip Amtrak trip to DC for inauguration over security fears"
CNN, Dec. 7, "'Amtrak Joe' could arrive for his inauguration by train"
USA TODAY, Jan. 20, "Live updates: Biden's inauguration day ends with a wave and a massive firework show"
Library of Congress, accessed Feb. 1, "Hail to the Chief"
Smithsonian Magazine, January/February 2017, "Why Do We Play ‘Hail to the Chief’ for the President?"
C-SPAN, Jan. 20, "Motorcade to Arlington Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Ceremony"
YouTube, accessed Feb. 1, Removed Video
C-SPAN, Jan. 20, "President Biden 2021 Inaugural Ceremony"
Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, accessed Feb. 1, "VICE PRESIDENT’S SWEARING-IN CEREMONY"
C-SPAN, Jan. 20, 2017, "President Trump 2017 Inaugural Ceremony"
C-SPAN, Jan. 21, 2013, "2013 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony"
C-SPAN, Jan. 20, 2009, "President Obama 2009 Inaugural Ceremony"
NBC News, Jan. 19, "Trump won't hand Biden the nuclear football. Here's how the handoff will happen."
POLITICO, Jan. 20, "‘Really quite shocking’: Inside the ugly transition at the Pentagon"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Meme of 9 questions makes false Biden inauguration claims