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A Viral Clip That Shows Obama Throwing Away Melania Trump’s Gift Is Misleading

Claim 

Multiple posts on social media sites include a video clip claiming that Barack Obama rejected a gift received from Melania Trump by throwing it away. Here is an example of one such Twitter post:

This claim with the video clip has gone viral and has been circulating on various social media platforms in the past week. You can view more posts here and here.  

Further, we found multiple posts of this viral clip dating back three years to 2017. 

Factcheck

A viral video clip with a CNN watermark has been widely circulating on various social media platforms claiming that former President of the United States Barack Obama threw the gift former First Lady Michelle Obama received from Melania Trump. 

The clip shows Obama and Michelle receiving Donald and Melania Trump at the White House. Melania Trump is seen giving Michelle a turquoise-coloured gift box which is then shown to be thrown away by Obama. 

The claim is shared with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and has gone viral in the past 10 days after George Floyd, an African-American man was brutally killed by a white Minneapolis police officer in the United States. This clip has been shared with similar hashtags and messages voicing racial inequality.

Through a relevant keyword search we found many news reports dating back to 2017 which include a similar video of the Trumps being received by Obama and Michelle at the White House. 

These news reports detail the Obamas welcoming the then President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump to a tea before Trump was to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States a few hours later that day in January, 2017. The couples are seen greeting each other and exchanging hugs, after which Melania gives Michelle a gift before they all head inside the White House. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2017/jan/20/obama-trump-inauguration-white-house-tea-video

The video in the above linked new reports is very similar to the viral clip showing the couple wearing the same clothes and exchanging hugs, till the point Melania gives Michelle the gift box. The point of difference is revealed when videos in news reports with a wide angle and long shot view show Obama walking towards the door and handing over the gift box to a White House staffer. You can see the video by USA Today below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mZlOcxO290

The original CNN video published on 20 January, 2017 can be seen here

We can also confirm Michelle receiving the gift from Melania from news reports that were published almost a year later with Michelle describing the incident during her appearance on Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2018. You can watch the clip from the show below where Michelle explicitly says that her husband took the gift back inside. 

https://www.ellentube.com/video/michelle-obama-on-the-awkward-gift-exchange-with-the-trumps.html

Conclusion

The video clip of Barack Obama throwing away the gift received by Melania Trump is misleading. Old videos of the Obamas welcoming the Trumps before the 45th Presidential inaugural ceremony in 2017 is tampered to depict a wrong picture. In reality, Obama does not throw away the gift, but hands it over to a White House staffer. 

Tools Used

  • Twitter advanced search
  • InVid
  • Youtube
  • Google advanced search

Result: Misleading  

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Nikita Vashisth
Nikita is a writer and editor for English fact-checking. She also leads projects to understand the misinformation and fake-news ecosystem—with an emphasis on data and psychology. Previously, she has worked with IndiaSpend, CNN-News18 and written for Citizen Matters and Mongabay-India on the environment, health, and politics. She’s a postgraduate of the Computational Journalism program at Cardiff University, Wales.

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