Trump Campaign Demands Correction From ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Over ‘Long-Disproven Lie’

October 30, 2019 Updated: October 30, 2019

President Donald Trump’s campaign demanded a correction from ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel after he repeated a conspiracy theory started by former President Barack Obama photographer Pete Souza.

Souza suggested a photograph of Trump and military leaders taken during a raid of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound was staged. His conspiracy theory, which included incorrect information, was shared by a number of reporters over the weekend.

Kimmel repeated the theory during his show late Oct. 28.

“They got him [al-Baghdadi] during a raid in Syria,” Kimmel said. “Now, President Trump was reportedly golfing when they went in. The raid started at 3:30 p.m. According to his schedule, Trump was playing golf at his course in northern Virginia Saturday until a little after 3. Didn’t make it back to the White House until 4:18.”

Kimmel didn’t name the source, but the person who appeared to start the theory was Souza.

trump in situation room
President Donald Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence, second from left, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, second from right, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, right, on Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments in the U.S. Special Operations forces raid that took out Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Shealah Craighead/White House via AP)

Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, shared a screenshot of a timeline posted by The Washington Post that said Trump was in the Situation Room at around 5 p.m. At around the same time, eight helicopters left Iraq to al-Baghdadi’s compound, arriving about an hour later.

The photograph was taken at 5:06 p.m., according to metadata on the Situation Room photograph.

“Trying for a cheap laugh, @JimmyKimmelLive last night repeated the long-disproven lie that the president was golfing during the al-Baghdadi raid—a Twitter lie pushed by Obama photographer @PeteSouza. Real timeline was out way before Kimmel’s show,” Murtaugh wrote.

“He should retract and correct.”

Kimmel’s comments came after The Washington Post story about the timeline. Souza eventually corrected his original post on Twitter but the first post remains live, spreading across the platform. The update isn’t visible to users sharing the original post.

The first tweet has over 21,000 shares and 59,000 “likes;” the update had just over 1,000 shares and over 2,500 “likes.”

Also in Kimmel’s show, the host speculated that the military didn’t inform the commander-in-chief of the raid before joking, “Same way you don’t tell grandpa about the surprise party.”

Kimmel later broadcast the photograph of Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and three top military leaders.

Kimmel got another fact wrong when he said that Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chief of Staffs Gen. Mark Milley “said they didn’t hear whimpering,” referencing Trump telling the nation that al-Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying” before he killed himself.

Milley said at a press conference this week that he didn’t know who Trump had gotten that information from, but said the president had spoken “directly to the unit members,” whereas Milley had just spoken with the unit commander.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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