Politics

Obama’s White House Photographer Spreads Conspiracy Theory About Baghdadi Raid Photo

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Amber Athey White House Correspondent
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Pete Souza, the official White House photographer during the Obama administration, spread a conspiracy theory Sunday that President Donald Trump was not actually in the Situation Room when U.S. forces conducted a raid against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trump announced Sunday morning that al-Baghdadi committed suicide after U.S. Special Operations forces stormed his compound in a planned Saturday night raid. The White House released a photo showing Trump and other administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, watching the raid unfold from inside the Situation Room. (RELATED: White House Releases Photo Of Trump Watching Baghdadi Raid From Situation Room)

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: In this handout photo provided by the White House, President Donald J. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L), National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien (L), Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (2nd R) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley in the Situation Room of the White House October 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. The President was monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist. (Photo by Shealah Craighead/The White House via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 26: In this handout photo provided by the White House, President Donald J. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L), National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien (L), Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (2nd R) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley in the Situation Room of the White House October 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shealah Craighead/The White House via Getty Images)

Souza, however, suggested in a tweet that the photo was staged and insisted that Trump wasn’t even at the White House when the raid took place. He incorrectly claimed that the raid “took place at 3:30 pm,” during which time Trump was golfing, and that the Situation Room photo was not taken until after 5 pm.

However, reporting about the raid around the time Souza sent his tweet indicated that the operation actually started just after 5 pm eastern time. Souza later corrected himself, but did not delete his original tweet, which has over 55,000 likes and 20,000 retweets.

Souza later doubled down on his criticism of the photo, retweeting former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who claimed that the Situation Room picture was “posed.”