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FACT FOCUS: Biden's pause as he left a star-studded LA fundraiser becomes a target for opponents

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FACT FOCUS: Biden's pause as he left a star-studded LA fundraiser becomes a target for opponents

Video from a star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles for President Joe Biden on Saturday is circulating on social media with claims that he froze up onstage as he exited the event.

“Biden froze again last night and had to get escorted out by Obama,” reads one post on X that had received approximately 22,000 likes and 5,600 shares as of Monday. “Is this normal?”

Members of his campaign and administration say the president stopped to take in cheers and applause as he left a sit-down with former President Barack Obama and comedian Jimmy Kimmel that helped raise more than $30 million for his reelection campaign. A spokesperson for Kimmel echoed this view.

The video is the most recent in a series of clips taken at public events, some of them edited, that are being used to suggest Biden is mentally and physically unfit for office.

Here’s a closer look at the facts.

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CLAIM: Biden froze onstage during his fundraiser in Los Angeles on Saturday night and had to be led away by Obama.

THE FACTS: Biden paused amid cheers and applause as he exited the stage with his predecessor following an interview moderated by late-night host Kimmel.

Former President Donald Trump shared a video on his social media platform Truth Social that showed a grainy version of Biden stopping and looking out into the audience as he departed. “Is this really who you want to be your president?” Trump asked in the post.

Separate footage from the event provided to The Associated Press by Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer shows the president waving, pointing, clapping and giving the thumbs-up to the audience alongside Obama while Kimmel waits off to the side. Biden then stands still for about seven seconds looking out at the crowd. He starts moving again when Obama briefly takes his arm and puts his hand on his back as the pair walks offstage.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates described the moment as “the President taking in an applauding crowd for a few seconds.” Singer attributed the negative characterizations as a distraction tactic from those who “are so scared of losing to Joe Biden, they’ll make anything up to distract from the fact that their candidate for president, Donald Trump, has been convicted of 34 felonies, found liable for sexual assault, committed financial fraud, and only cares about himself.”

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In response to a question at a press briefing on Monday about videos that have been edited to make Biden appear frail or confused, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called such footage “cheap fakes video” that are “done in bad faith.” She added that they demonstrate “everything that we need to know about how desperate, how desperate Republicans are here.”

A source who helped organize, and attended, the fundraiser told the AP that there was nothing noteworthy about this moment and that Obama wanted to be “chummy” by walking offstage with Biden.

Lewis Kay, a spokesperson for Kimmel, called the claims spreading online “nonsense.”

“Attendees in the front were shouting at him, and President Biden was trying to hear them,” he wrote in an email to the AP. “It’s as simple as that.”

The fundraiser took in a record $30 million-plus, according to Biden’s campaign. George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Barbra Streisand were among those who took the stage at the event. During their interview with Kimmel, Biden and Obama both stressed the need to defeat Trump in a race that’s expected to be exceedingly close.

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This is part of the AP’s effort to address widely shared false and misleading information that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

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More Democratic lawmakers call for Joe Biden to withdraw from election race

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More Democratic lawmakers call for Joe Biden to withdraw from election race

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Eight more Democratic lawmakers, including a third US senator, have called for Joe Biden to withdrawn from this year’s White House presidential race, deepening the peril for his campaign for re-election.

In a joint statement on Friday morning, four US House members — Jared Huffman, Mark Pocan, Chuy Garcia and Marc Veasey — said it was time for the 81-year-old president to “pass the torch to a new generation of Democratic leaders”.

“We must face the reality that widespread public concerns about your age and fitness are jeopardising what should be a winning campaign,” the politicians added. House Democrats Sean Casten, Greg Landsman and Zoe Lofgren also called on Biden to drop out on Friday morning.

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Meanwhile, New Mexico senator Martin Heinrich became the third Democratic member of the upper chamber of Congress to urge Biden to drop out, joining Jon Tester of Montana and Vermont’s Peter Welch.

“This moment in our nation’s history calls for a focus that is bigger than any one person,” Henrich said, adding it was “in the best interests of our country” for the president to end his campaign.

Biden insisted on Friday that he would remain in the race, saying in a statement he “look[ed] forward to getting back on the campaign trail next week to continue exposing the threat of Donald Trump’s Project 2025 agenda”.

The president has been isolating at his holiday home in Delaware since testing positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. White House doctor Kevin O’Connor said on Friday that Biden’s symptoms had “improved meaningfully” and he would continue taking Paxlovid, the antiviral drug.

The new wave of lawmakers calling for Biden to quit comes as Democratic party grandees such as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as the megadonors crucial to funding his campaign, heap pressure on him behind the scenes.

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The Financial Times reported on Thursday that donors and other senior party operatives believe Biden is very close to a decision to exit.

Chris Coons, the Democratic senator and close Biden ally, said on Friday that the president was getting the necessary advice to make a decision about his political future.

“I am confident he is hearing what he needs to hear,” he said while speaking on a panel at the Aspen Security Forum.

But Coons — who insisted Biden was “strong” and “capable” enough to carry on — acknowledged the unease within the Democratic party, saying: “There is a lot of concern and anxiety because the stakes are so significant.”

The latest interventions came a day after Trump formally accepted the Republican party’s nomination for president, less than a week after he narrowly escaped assassination in Pennsylvania.

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The former president has surged ahead of Biden in the polls despite his recent criminal convictions, building a lead across the crucial swing states that will decide November’s vote.

About 30 members of Congress have now said Biden needs to drop his re-election bid, a view shared privately by many more who have not yet gone public.

However, some Democrats, including many progressives, have supported him. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used an Instagram livestream in the early hours of Friday to fiercely defend the president and accuse “donors” and “elites” of trying to cast him and vice-president Kamala Harris aside.

Biden’s disastrous debate performance against Trump last month sparked panic in the Democratic party over his age and fitness for office. After testing positive for Covid in Nevada he was seen apparently struggling to ascend a staircase into Air Force One to return home.

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Escaped prisoner found in Georgia 30 years later, using the identity of a dead child

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Escaped prisoner found in Georgia 30 years later, using the identity of a dead child

Steven Johnson escaped from Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem, Ore., during a prison work detail in 1994. He was arrested on Tuesday in Macon, Ga., where had had assumed the identity of a dead child.

Oregon Department of Corrections/Bibb County Sheriff’s Office


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Oregon Department of Corrections/Bibb County Sheriff’s Office

An Oregon fugitive that escaped from prison 30 years ago was arrested at his apartment on Tuesday afternoon in Macon, Ga. According to authorities, he had been living under the identity of a dead child.

Steven Craig Johnson, 70, fled from a prison work detail at the Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem, Ore., in 1994. He was serving a state prison sentence for three counts of sex abuse and one count of attempted sodomy.

Johnson was listed on the Oregon Department of Corrections “Most Wanted” list. He was described as a pedophile who “presents a high probability of victimizing pre-teen boys.”

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At the time of his arrest, Johnson was using the alias William Cox. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Johnson stole the identity of a child who died in Texas in 1962 after obtaining the child’s birth certificate and Social Security number in 1995.

Johnson secured a Georgia driver’s license in 1998, and had been living in Macon since 2011. The Oregon Corrections Department requested the U.S. Marshals to take on the search for Johnson in 2015. After pursuing multiple leads, new technology used by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service helped uncover new leads this year.

The facility Johnson escaped from was a minimum-security prison with no fence around it. Mill Creek prison closed in June 2021 under an order from former Gov. Kate Brown.

Johnson was booked into Bibb County Jail after arrest. He currently awaits extradition to Oregon.

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Video: Trump Accepts the Republican Nomination

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Video: Trump Accepts the Republican Nomination

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Trump Accepts the Republican Nomination

Former President Donald J. Trump concluded the Republican National Convention on Thursday with a speech that ran for more than an hour and a half.

[music: “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood] I am running to be president for all of America, not half of America. Because there is no victory in winning for half of America. So tonight, with faith and devotion, I proudly accept your nomination for President of the United States. Thank you. We will very quickly make America great again. Thank you very much.

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