President Biden has made many claims throughout his decades-long political career, including one about being “arrested” when he was 21 years old for sitting in the Senate presiding officer’s chair illegally.
A 2007 interview Biden gave with comedian David Letterman is circulating on social media after being reposted in the wake of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s publication of Capitol footage from the Jan. 6 riots.
In the interview, Letterman asked the Delaware Democratic senator what it was like walking into the Senate chamber in his 20s.
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“You know, I walked in when I was 21, and I got arrested,” Biden claimed. “It was a Saturday. I was down visiting some friends from Georgetown University.
“And I came up on a Saturday morning because I was fascinated with the Senate, and they had a Saturday session,” Biden added. “I walked up — those days no guards stopping you everywhere — and they just got out of session. I walked in the back, and, all of the sudden, I found myself in the chamber, and I was stunned.
“I walked up, sat down in the presiding officer’s seat,” Biden added. “Guy grabbed me by the shoulder and said, ‘You’re under arrest!’”
Biden’s claim of being arrested at 21 for illegally entering the Senate floor and sitting in the presiding officer’s chair has been contradicted by the president himself, as some have pointed out online.
In his January 2009 farewell address to the Senate, two years after saying on national television he was “arrested” for illegally entering the Senate chamber, Biden said he was not arrested when he was 21.
“Literally, I walked in, and I walked in down here, and I came through those doors. I walked into the chamber and the lights were still on and I was awestruck, literally awestruck. I don’t know what in God’s name made me do it, but I walked up, I say to my friend from Arkansas, and I sat in the presiding officer’s chair. I was mesmerized,” Biden said in his speech.
“The next thing I know, I feel this hand on my shoulder and the Capitol policeman picks me up and says, ‘What are you doing?’ Biden added. “After a few moments, he realized I was just a dumbstruck kid. He didn’t arrest me or anything.
“That was the first time I walked onto the Senate floor. It is literally a true story.”
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Some critics online have compared the treatment of Jan. 6 rioters who entered the Capitol illegally two years ago to Biden’s treatment when sitting in the Senate presiding officer’s chair.
However, there are many major differences between Biden’s claimed arrest and the arrest of Jan. 6 rioters. Biden’s incident happened at a time with more lax Capitol security measures in the 1960s, and he did not break windows to gain entry to the Capitol.
Biden’s time in the Senate has been coming back to haunt him as the American political arena gears up for the 2024 presidential election.
This isn’t the first time that Biden has falsely claimed he was arrested. He claimed multiple times he was arrested in South Africa during apartheid when he sought to visit Nelson Mandela on a trip.
“This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid,” Biden said at a campaign event in South Carolina in 2020. “I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.”
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At another event in Las Vegas, Biden said Mandela thanked him for getting arrested.
“After he got free and became president, he came to Washington and came to my office,” Biden said, according to the New York Times. “He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you.’ I said, ‘What are you thanking me for, Mr. President?’ He said, ‘You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.’”
Biden later admitted during a CNN interview that he wasn’t arrested.
“When I said ‘arrested’ I meant I was not able to move, cops would not let me go with them and made me stay where I was. I guess I wasn’t arrested. I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go,” Biden said on CNN.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.