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FACT CHECK: Five Lies Donald Trump Told About President Joe Biden at the First Presidential Debate

Jun 28, 2024

Last night, we watched convicted felon Donald Trump tell lie after lie about President Biden and his administration. 

Here’s the truth – since President Biden took office and Trump’s MAGA House Republican cronies took control of the majority, the lying, convicted felon has used every play in the book to weaponize the House of Representatives and pursue baseless investigations into President Biden – which haven’t turned up a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing by the President whatsoever. Trump has instructed his followers to desperately distract from multiple ongoing criminal cases and felony convictions.

The truth is, Donald Trump remains just as big of a threat to our democracy as he was on January 6, 2021, when he instructed his supporters to storm our nation’s Capitol and attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power. To this day, the lying, convicted felon stands by the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol and killed Capitol police officers, and stands by the big lie that the election was stolen from him. He refuses to condemn political violence and he refuses to say unequivocally that he would accept the outcome of the 2024 election. 

Trump Lie #1: Rehashing The 2020 Debate Over Hunter Biden’s Laptop

CLAIM: During the debate, Trump claimed: “The 51 intelligence agents are made up…It’s the same thing. Fifty-one intelligence agents said that the laptop was Russian disinformation. It wasn’t. That came from his son, Hunter. It wasn’t Russian disinformation.”


  • The Writers And Signatories Were Writing As Private Citizens, Not Intelligence Officials At The Time Of The Letter. The letter was written and signed by a group of 51 former intelligence officials who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations undercutting the Republican deep state conspiracy theory.
  • The Writers And Signatories Explained Why They Felt A Duty As Former Intelligence Officials And American Citizens To Speak Up In Their Personal Capacities:
    • Former CIA Director Michael Morrell explained the actual reason he drafted the letter, testifying that he and others were concerned about Russian interference in the 2020 election, saying “[w]e were making an argument about what we saw and what we believed and what I still believe may be true today, that the Russians played some role here.” 
    • Former CIA and NSC senior advisor Nicholas Shapiro testified that the letter was intended to inform the American people that this group of former intelligence officials “believe the Russians were, again, interfering with the election.”
    • Former National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen testified that he saw the letter “as an opportunity to alert and to urge further scrutiny so that people take it – not take at face value that which they may read, but may lead them to look more deeply into” the alleged claims about the laptop.
  • Despite Republican Lies To The Contrary, The Biden Campaign Did Not Collude With The Letter Writers. Former CIA Director Michael Morell testified that the Biden campaign did not direct him to write the letter. When questioned by the Republican committee majority, Morell testified that his friend and former colleague now-Secretary Blinken – then a private citizen – did not hint that the Biden campaign “could use some help on this” or suggest that he should “cook up something” that the campaign should use.

Trump Lie #2: No, President Biden Did Not Help Fire A Ukrainian Prosecutor To Benefit Hunter Biden

CLAIM: During the debate, Trump claimed: “Joe could be a convicted felon with all of the things that he’s done. He’s done horrible things. All of the death caused at the border, telling the Ukrainian people that, we’re going to want a billion dollars or you change the prosecutor. Otherwise, you’re not getting a billion dollars. If I ever said that, that’s quid pro quo. That – we’re not going to do anything. We’re not going to give you a billion dollars unless you change your prosecutor having to do with his son. This man is a criminal.”

THE FACTS: Republicans have long suggested that, while serving as Vice President, Joe Biden worked to fire a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor to benefit Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings. The GOP narrative that a Ukrainian prosecutor – Viktor Shokin – was removed at then-Vice President Biden’s behest as a favor to Hunter Biden is false – numerous fact checkers have rejected this claim over the years.

  • Witness Testimony: President Biden Did Not Alter U.S. Policy In Ukraine Due To His Son. In an interview with Sally Painter, chief operating officer of the firm representing Ukrainian energy company Burisma, Painter testified in 2020 that Joe Biden did not alter U.S. policy in Ukraine due to his son’s involvement with Burisma or in any manner to benefit his son, repeatedly stating that the false allegation “undermines our democracy.”
  • Fact-Checkers: Ukrainian Prosecutor Viktor Shokin Was Not Removed At Then-Vice President Biden’s Behest As A Favor To Hunter Biden. House Republicans have long suggested that, while serving as Vice President, Joe Biden worked to fire a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor to benefit Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings. But independent factcheckers have rejected this claim over the years: “Based on our research, the claim that Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion from Ukraine to save his son’s job is FALSE. The then-vice president leveraged aid dollars to persuade the country to oust its top prosecutor as part of anti-corruption efforts endorsed by other international players that were unrelated to his son, Hunter Biden.” [USA Today, 10/21/20
  • Official U.S. Policy Supported The Corrupt Prosecutor’s Removal. A State Department memo dating back to November 2015 indicated that official U.S. policy supported removing Shokin. The House Foreign Affairs Committee reviewed thousands of documents produced by a Trump-era State Department investigation and found that American diplomats were pursuing “a strong policy of encouraging Ukraine to reform and tackle corruption. A former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Kurt Volker, also repudiated the allegations in 2019.
  • The Corrupt Prosecutor’s Removal Was Widely Supported Domestically And Internationally. Many European officials, Republicans in Congress at the time, and international anti-corruption organizations supported the move as well. Former Ukrainian Petro Poroshenko himself, who was head of state at the time, has also refuted Comer’s allegations. He condemned the conspiracy theory on Fox News, calling the corrupt prosecutor a “completely crazy person,” and said, “There’s something wrong with him.” Ukraine’s deputy chief of mission George Kent debunked the allegations in 2019, as did former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Trump Lie #3: No, Trump’s Criminal Conviction On 34 Felony Counts Was Not Weaponization of the Legal System

CLAIM: During the debate, Trump claimed: “We had a very terrible judge, horrible judge, Democrat…He basically went after his political opponent because he thought it was going to damage me…the public knows it’s a scam and it’s a guy that’s after his political opponent because he can’t win fair and square.”


  • Trump Was Convicted Unanimously On 34 Felony Counts By A Jury Of His Peers. “On May 30, the 12-member jury unanimously pronounced Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.” [Reuters, 6/7/24]
  • The Judge Conducted A Fair Trial. “The judge told the jury that to convict Trump on any given charge, they will have to find unanimously — that is, all 12 jurors must agree — that the former president created a fraudulent entry in his company’s records or caused someone else to do so, and that he did so with the intent of committing or concealing a crime. Prosecutors said the crime Trump committed or hid is a violation of a New York election law making it illegal for two or more conspirators ‘to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means.’ Merchan gave the jurors three possible ‘unlawful means’ they can apply to Trump’s charges: falsifying other business records, breaking the Federal Election Campaign Act or submitting false information on a tax return. For a conviction, each juror had to find that at least one of those three things happened, but they did not have to agree unanimously on which it was. Trump was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories that he feared could hurt his 2016 campaign, particularly as his reputation was suffering at the time from comments he had made about women. He was convicted on all charges Thursday.” [Associated Press, 5/31/24]
  • The Biden Administration Had Nothing To Do With Trump’s Manhattan Indictment, Trial, Or Conviction. “The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is an independent office within the New York state government. Bragg does not answer to President Biden, the United States Department of Justice or national and New York state Democrats. There has never been a shred of evidence to suggest that Biden or other Democrats influenced Bragg’s thinking. In fact, Biden has seemed extremely conflicted about the idea of prosecuting Trump, as has his attorney general, Merrick Garland. But regardless of their possible discomfort with Bragg’s decision, this is a state case brought by state officials under state law, and has nothing to do with Biden. The case as prosecuted, presented and tried was thorough and fair. It moved at a deliberate pace, even with a delay at the last minute to ensure Donald Trump’s team had adequate time to review all evidence. Despite Trump’s insistence that this trial was rigged, his story is belied by the fact that he arrived at court well represented. His attorneys filed many motions, made many arguments, and ensured that Trump’s position was aggressively stated and preserved for appeal.” [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 6/11/24

Trump Lie #4: No, The Justice Department Is Not Working To Protect Hunter Biden

CLAIM: During the debate, Trump claimed: “But when he talks about a convicted felon, his son is a convicted felon at a very high level. His son is convicted. Going to be convicted probably numerous other times. He should have been convicted before, but his Justice Department let the statute of limitations lapse on the most important things. But he could be a convicted felon as soon as he gets out of office.”


  • Special Counsel David Weiss Was Appointed By Trump And Confirmed By Congressional Republicans. Congressional Republicans supported Weiss up until recently. Trump himself appointed Weiss, saying the Delaware prosecutor “shared his vision,” and Congressional Republicans, including James Comer, supported Weiss’ nomination in 2017.
  • Weiss Had Ultimate Authority Over the Case and Has Never Been Influenced By Political Considerations. Weiss—a Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney—wrote on June 7th that he had ultimate authority and was never influenced by political considerations: “I want to make clear that, as the Attorney General has stated, I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution, consistent with federal law, the Principles of Federal Prosecution, and Departmental regulations. […] Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney my decisions have been made–and with respect to the matter must be made–without reference to political considerations.”
  • Republicans Have Decried Delays and Slow-Walking In The Case – But Much of That Took Place During the Trump Administration. The case began in November 2018 under the Trump Administration and the prosecutors, investigators, and key employees largely have remained the same. Many of the allegations regarding delay and slow-walking occurred under the Trump administration and the Trump-appointed IRS Commissioner and align with the widely reported priorities of then-Attorney General Bill Barr.
  • Three U.S. Attorneys Interviewed By House Republicans: There’s No Evidence To Support Accusations of Political Bias Or Interference In Investigations. In October, House Republicans interviewed three U.S. attorneys, including a Trump appointee, who testified that the DOJ was fairly and honestly prosecuting Hunter Biden. Instead of validating Republicans’ bogus claims about Special Counsel David Weiss, all three federal prosecutors debunked them.

Trump Lie #5: No, the Federal Government Has Not Been Weaponized In Favor of President Biden

CLAIM: During the debate, Trump claimed: “We’re like a Third World nation between weaponization of his election, trying to go after his political opponent…what happened to the United States’s reputation under this man’s leadership is horrible, including weaponization, which I’m sure at some point you’ll be talking about where he goes after his political opponent because he can’t beat them fair and square.”


  • Republicans Have Consistently Failed To Produce Any Evidence of So-Called Weaponization of the Federal Government. Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) claimed one of his whistleblowers was suspended from the FBI for performing his job, including conducting case-related research. But according to the FBI, Jordan’s so-called whistleblower refused to do his job by refusing to conduct open-source research into a Jan. 6 suspect’s potential engagement with criminal activity or terrorism. His supervisor even testified he recommended removing him from a probe “to protect the integrity of the investigation” because the whistleblower made “unsubstantiated allegations.”
  • Republicans’ Key “Whistleblower” Allegations Have Been Debunked By At Least Six Witnesses Questioned By The House GOP. At least six witnesses brought in for questioning by Oversight Republicans – including a supervisor at the IRS’ Criminal Investigation division and the division’s director of field operations, three current and former FBI officials, and a longtime bookkeeper for the Biden family – have testified that the so-called whistleblowers’ claims are “false and misleading.” 
  • Republicans Blatantly Misrepresented Whistleblowers, Then Refused to Produce Evidence Substantiating Their Claims. Last year, Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) blatantly misrepresented witnesses in his investigation, claiming he connected with “four whistleblowers” as part of his investigation. But after Comer hyped the so-called whistleblowers on Fox News and Breitbart, his Democratic House Oversight Committee members called him out for misrepresenting:
    • the number of individuals (two were identified, not four)
    • their status (not official whistleblowers)
    • the impact of their testimony (no new witness information provided).