White House fact checks Joe Biden: The President's uncle wasn’t eaten by cannibals, he died in a plane crash - Hindustan Times
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White House fact checks Joe Biden: The President's uncle wasn’t eaten by cannibals, he died in a plane crash

Apr 19, 2024 01:58 AM IST

White House confirms President Biden's uncle died in WWII plane crash, not eaten by cannibals as claimed.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed on Thursday that President Joe Biden’s maternal uncle, Ambrose Finnegan, died during World War II when his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and was not eaten by cannibals.

US President Joe Biden pays respects to his uncle World War II veteran Ambrose J, Finnegan, Jr. at the Veterans War Memorial in Scranton, Pennsylvania, before departing for Pittsburgh, on April 17, 2024. Biden is traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to meet with steelworkers. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)(AFP)
US President Joe Biden pays respects to his uncle World War II veteran Ambrose J, Finnegan, Jr. at the Veterans War Memorial in Scranton, Pennsylvania, before departing for Pittsburgh, on April 17, 2024. Biden is traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to meet with steelworkers. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)(AFP)

The House press secretary said the president feels “incredibly proud” of his uncle’s service in uniform. “You saw the president, he was incredibly proud of his uncle’s service in uniform. You saw him at the War Memorial. It was incredibly emotional and important to him,” she said.

“You saw him respond to all of you when asked about the moment yesterday and his uncle who lost his life when the military aircraft he was on crashed in the Pacific after taking off near New Guinea.”

Jean-Pierre declined to delve further into the matter, citing the presidential plane's imminent arrival in Philadelphia, where Biden was scheduled for campaign visits.

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Biden's provably false personal anecdotes

During recent campaign visits to Pennsylvania Biden claimed that New Guinea natives had consumed his uncle. “He got shot down in an area where there were a lot of cannibals at the time. They never recovered his body, but the government went back when I went down there and they checked and found some parts of the plane,” he stated.

Later, in Pittsburgh, Biden reiterated that Finnegan “got shot down in New Guinea, and they never found the body because there used to be — there were a lot of cannibals, for real, in that part of New Guinea.”

The official account of Finnegan's death provided by the US military contradicts Biden's narrative.

According to the Pentagon's Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Finnegan's plane crashed into the ocean off the coast of New Guinea due to engine failure.

“For unknown reasons, this plane was forced to ditch in the ocean off the north coast of New Guinea. Both engines failed at low altitude, and the aircraft’s nose hit the water hard,” the agency report says.

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“Three men failed to emerge from the sinking wreck and were lost in the crash. One crew member survived and was rescued by a passing barge. An aerial search the next day found no trace of the missing aircraft or the lost crew members.”

Biden's tendency to recount personal anecdotes with dubious accuracy or without supporting documentation is not new. Throughout his political career, he has often used such stories to connect with his audience, including Pennsylvania voters who could play a crucial role in his potential bid for a second term against former President Donald Trump.

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