The White House admitted on Friday that President Joe Biden lied when he said he visited the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh after they suffered a harrowing attack in 2018.
According to a report by Fox News, the president’s staff had the unpleasant job of retracting his earlier statement where he claimed to have spent time at the synagogue after what is thought to be the most deadly anti-Semitic attack in United States history.
Biden said on Thursday that he remembered “spending time at” and “going to” the Tree of Life, but the synagogue conflicted that report, telling members of the media that he never visited the premises after the attack.
The White House was questioned about the differences in reports, and almost 24 hours later the White House issued an official statement, attempting to amend the president’s earlier comments. According to the newer version of events, Biden “was referring to a call he had with the Tree of Life rabbi in 2019.”
However, much of the potential damage was likely already done, considering the president’s statement received immense airtime in the media with networks from Fox News to CNN featuring it in segments between the statement and retraction.
Fox News pointed out that this falsehood is not out of character for Biden, who has “a reputation for making false or embellished claims” citing the president’s first dropped presidential campaign in 1988.
At the time, the president was at the center of a scandal due to the discovery that he plagiarized some of his college work. At the time, Biden admitted that he was guilty of plagiarizing a law school paper. It turned out he used lines from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock without giving him credit.
However, at nearly 79 years of age, it’s also his mental state that is often questioned. It’s not unexpected for someone earring their 80th year of life to make some mistakes, however, Biden’s flubs, such as his 2020 claim he “had the great honor of being arrested” in South Africa have an epic proportion for the leader of the free world.
Biden at the time claimed he was “trying to get to see [Nelson Mandela] on Robbens Island,” where Mandela was in prison until 1990. He also said Mandela thanked him for it. The president later admitted, “I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go.”
Tree of Life, the congregation’s rabbi, Hazzan Jeffrey Myers clarified his contact with Biden saying, “President Biden kindly called me on my cell phone as I was sitting in Dulles Airport awaiting a return flight to Pittsburgh after I testified before Congress in July 2019,” Myers said.
The call, which took place nine months after the initial attack took place, “In a heartfelt way,” according to the rabbi who said that Biden “extended his condolences and asked how we were doing.”
“We spoke about the challenges of antisemitism, and he made clear he would confront it with us as president. The conversation meant a great deal to me, and I will always be grateful for his kind words and continued support of our community.”
Conversely, then-President Donald Trump visited the Tree of Life a few days after the attack and was joined by Jewish members of his administration, including his Orthodox Jewish daughter Ivanka Trump Kushner and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.